This past week during worship, I felt like I was hitting a brick wall over and over again. I kept trying to push through it, but I was making no headway. I started praying and seeking the Lord, asking Him why I was having such a hard time entering into His presence and giving myself over fully to Him in worship.
The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to recall the moment we started singing the first song of the set. Even though the song was personally significant to me, I wasn’t singing it with my usual joyful exuberance. Instead, I found myself feeling a little sad as we sang. What a juxtaposition – feeling intense sadness during a song about God’s miracle-working presence.
The song brought up some really sweet memories, but they felt as distant as His presence that day. With those memories came the harsh onslaught of comparison. But this comparison was different than anything I had ever experienced before. For one of the first times I can remember, I wasn’t comparing myself to other people. I was comparing myself to… myself. I was comparing my current situation to the places and seasons in which I had walked in the past.
As Holy Spirit started speaking to me, I sat down and started journaling. I heard Him say “I like different. I like new.” He reminded me that even though worship looked and felt and sounded a little differently, that didn’t make it any less beautiful, any less valuable to Him.
When I was finally able to turn my focus from my current situation and back onto Him, I broke through that wall and had the sweetest time of worship. No sooner had we started the second song than He reminded me once again that He makes everything new – this time through song lyrics. At this point, I was grinning and thinking “Ok, God… I hear you.”
It was such a sweet reminder that He makes all things new. Not just some of the things. Not just the things that are broken. Not just the banged up and busted up parts. All things.
Holy Spirit kept speaking to me, so I kept journaling during worship:
Don’t expect your current season to look just like the one you just came from or the one you’re expecting to walk into. This is how you will miss me and what I am doing in your life. If you wear blinders, you will be blinded. Take off the things that blind you – your memories, your expectations, your hopes and desires, your emotions. While these things aren’t necessarily bad, they can blind you to what I’m doing in the here and now. Don’t miss me. Watch for me to move. Feel the wind of my Spirit. Listen to the gentle whisper of my voice. Move when you feel me move. Speak when you hear me speak. Do what you see me do. Don’t miss what I’m doing.
A sweet friend of mine told me that same night that she saw a picture in her mind of Jesus locking eyes with me, never taking his eyes off of mine. The look of a lover truly seeing His bride.
I think that’s where we go wrong a lot of times. We’re so distracted by what’s around us – our circumstances, our memories, the hurt and pain of broken relationships, the expectations we have in our hearts for what we think He will do next, the heart desires cloaked in the fear that they’ll remain unmet– that we forget to keep our gaze trained on Him.
I heard Lisa Bevere speak at a Bethel Music Worship Night event last night. She said something that is still reverberating in my spirit today: “Stop putting question marks where you need to be putting periods and exclamation marks. God wants you to lift your eyes and see what Heaven is doing. You have far better things to do than to compare yourself to what you have seen and known.”
If we don’t want to miss the new thing He’s doing for us in our current season, we have to stop looking back at the past or looking ahead to the future and asking questions that we aren’t meant to know the answers to. How often is our captivity, our blindness of our own volition? How often do we stay stuck in the same spot – so caught up in looking back or looking forward, questioning Him with not even a thought to what the Lord may be doing right here and right now in this season?
I’ve found myself wandering through Isaiah over the past couple of weeks, and I keep coming back to Isaiah 43. It can’t be a coincidence. It’s a passage that speaks of the rescue and redemption the Lord has for His people. It speaks of an intimacy that’s breathtaking. It speaks of His constant presence in affliction – His support under it and our deliverance through it. It speaks of the importance of remembering His faithfulness in times past. He will do it again, but this time He will do a NEW thing.
"Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands."
--- Isaiah 43:18-19, MSG
Sometimes making all things new means meeting us right where we are in the here and now and doing a new thing in us. He can do wonder upon wonder when we allow Him to rescue us from our blindness. He can show us roads in the desert, rivers in the badlands. He can show us what He’s placing right in front of us, the need He’s meeting right here, right now.
I’m praying daily that He would remove any blinders on my eyes that would cause me to miss the brand new that He’s doing in the here and now of my life. I’m learning to train my gaze on Him despite the distractions that compete for my attention, and I’m asking Him to nudge me when my eyes start to stray. He is drawing my attention up as He draws me into deeper places of intimacy. I’m locking eyes with the One whose eyes will always be locked on me. The One who makes all things new by doing a new thing in me.