I have to confess to getting a little irked by Building Conservation. Not keeping a good building how it was if it can be enjoyed by all as part of our heritage, but when such buildings are no longer fit for purpose, yet it is insisted that it is kept how it was – even if it doesn’t meet the needs of today’s community. This weeks episode of The Planners had a fine example of such a decision, when a building was not allowed to be changed – which actually meant it probably wouldn’t survive! The same is true of many listed churches, where communities are unable to change them for the needs of today. Preserving the past is one thing, but the past also needs to be relevant and useful to today. Of course we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but we cannot try to cling to the past, without acknowledging where we are and what works now.
16 I am the one who cut a path
through the mighty ocean.
17 I sent an army to chase you
with chariots and horses;
now they lie dead,
unable to move.
They are like an oil lamp
with the flame snuffed out.
Forget the Past
The Lord said:
18 Forget what happened long ago!
Don’t think about the past.
19 I am creating something new.
There it is! Do you see it?
I have put roads in deserts,
streams in thirsty lands.
20 Every wild animal honors me,
even jackals and owls.
I provide water in deserts—
streams in thirsty lands
for my chosen people.
21 I made them my own nation,
so they would praise me.
God has done amazing things. That is acknowledged and celebrated and goes on in memories to be celebrated. BUT we cannot live on the past. The past informs us and encourages us – but it has to mean something for today. Past glories, however amazing, are not the reality of today.
And so God himself tells the people to forget about the past. Don’t dwell on it. The past, good as it may have been, is not to be the focus.
Why? Can’t they sit around reminiscing? Remembering the Good Old Days? Basking in the warm glow of how it used to be?
Why? Because God is going to do something new.
We can’t hold God in the past, how things were. He wants to do a new thing – with us, where we are today. His works are not confined to the past, to the good old days, God wants to work in our lives, where we are today.
Will we let him? Do we constrain God? Do we want to keep him in the past, where we can enjoy the stories, but keep him at arm’s length and not interfering with our present?
God has kept us, led us, cared for us – but he also longs to lead us on, to take us to a new place, to do a new thing.
Are we going?
I thank you for all the amazing things you have done.
For the care you have given,
for the times you have kept me save,
and saved me.
But I thank you that you have not done,
that there is still more to do,
the things that are right for today.
whilst I remember with joy and celebration
the good times of the past,
may I not be stuck in those times,
unwilling for anything different to happen.
Take me Lord,
lead me on
that I may see the new things you are doing,
not be held back by what I remember,
but go onwards
in your today