Some of us have been reflecting recently on the verse quoted by the Archdeacon at the end of his sermon at the recent induction service:
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
The archdeacon’s focus was very much on the Lord doing a new thing. But I have been thinking a lot about the question that follows this statement. If the Lord is at work, why would we not notice it? A few suggestions:
- It could be that we have quite simply gotten out of the habit of listening to the Lord. The complaint the Lord made in Isaiah’s time to His people was that your ears are open, but you hear nothing (Isaiah 42:20). It can be so easy to go through the motions in our relationship with Lord, without keeping in step with the Spirit. It’s hardly surprising then if we fail to hear what the Lord is saying to us.
- Or again it could be that our spiritual vision is affected by some sin we have not confessed, or indeed may not yet be aware of. In Isaiah’s time the besetting sin of the Lord’s people was idolatry, and while we may not worship blocks of wood, we may still have other priorities in our life that have a higher affection than our faith – our work, maybe, or our family, or our friendship. Isaiah’s words in 44:6 should cause us to reflect: This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. That being the case, are we really giving the Lord the chance to speak to us?
- Or it may simply be that we are afraid of the new thing that the Lord is doing. We are comfortable with the present, or at least it is more certain and more known than the future which lies in store for us. Yet as we have seen in our readings from Hebrews, faith is about stepping out in full trust and assurance in the Lord, knowing that He has a better future for us. That’s why in the verse before Isaiah 43:19 the Lord tells us: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Not because the past is unimportant, but because it is past, and we are called to press on to the goal to which Christ has called us (see Phil 3:12-14).
And what is true of us as individuals is also true of us as a church. What is the new thing that the Lord longs to do among us? That’s a question I believe we all need to ponder and discuss among ourselves.