When I was a girl, back in the day when you could see out of the front and back trains, I used to love sitting in the seats that meant you could see out of those windows. It was always great fun to pretend to be the driver; but especially on the way back I used to love to look out of the back window. It was fun to be able to see where you’d been – and always made the journey home seem longer and spin the trip out.
In fairness these seats are still where I choose to sit if I take a trip on the tram!
But looking back is not always a good thing. I was always told by my driving instructor to look at the place you want to go to.
And so Isaiah brings us God’s word
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (Isaiah 43:18,19a)
Don’t look back on how things have been, don’t try to live in the past – look to what God is going to do now.
Whether the past is a catalogue of things we’d rather forget, or something we remember as the “Good Old Days”, constantly looking back is not the way to go forward. ‘Forget it, move on, look ahead’ is God’s word to his people. There is a place for happy remembering, or learning from mistakes – but not being held by what has gone before.
So, don’t look back, but what are we looking forward to?
God is going to do something new.
In dried out places and wastelands he will provide water. For the weary and parched there will be refreshment and the life that can come with water to irrigate it.
The people God is talking to had not made such a good job of living how God meant them to. God hadn’t asked much of them – but they haven’t done it. But God says,
Don’t look back at that, don’t worry,
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (Isaiah 43:25)
The past is not what is important now. What God is going to do is much more important and significant – and he invites us to join him.
Don’t let the past hold you back – either in glory or dread; wistfulness or embarrassment; longing or fear.
God is here to make our tomorrows count – let’s look to them.
I hand to you
things from the past
that are best left there:
things that I remember with fondness;
things I wish were still how they were;
things that I really wish I hadn’t done.
I leave them with you.
May they not be a distraction
today or tomorrow.
May I let you
do the new thing that you want to
and in the whole world.
May I not stand in the way,
or continue to hark back,
but go forward
So I realise that I’ve been misled, and this isn’t the lectionary reading for this Sunday (should have checked it myself!), but it’s here now, so I’ll leave it