Look Both Ways

A devotion by Mike Stoltzfus, board member and former counselor

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Isaiah 43:16-19 (NLT)


16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

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Isaiah was writing to the nation of Israel, as they were nearing the end of their years-long exile under Babylon. Most of the Israelites at this point had been born into captivity, and never lived in the freedom that their ancestors experienced after being delivered from Egypt. Verses 16 & 17 refer back to their Israel’s deliverance from Egypt – a story the current Israelites would have no doubt heard many times, and perhaps dwelled on as they wondered if, when, and how they might be delivered from their current oppressors.

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In the next breath – verse 18 – God says “forget all that”! What?? Why would he bring up something that might give these people a hope to cling to, then tell them to forget it? He tells us in the next verse. “I’m about to do something new! It’s already begun! I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

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Contrast the mental image of a dry path through a great sea – as in the deliverance from Egypt – with a river in a dry wasteland. God has a different plan for them than the hope that they’ve clung to from the story of the exodus.

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We shouldn’t make the mistake of dwelling on the past, wishing things could be as they were. We also shouldn’t assume that God’s plan for our life, or for the Retreat Center, looks like what it was. Perhaps the past is nothing compared to what He’s going to do. He’s already begun!

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It’s easy to get mired in the minutia of the details that we’re forced to grapple with right now. Yes, those details are important, and God gave us minds with logic, wisdom, and creativity to be able to grapple with details. I’m thankful that God has a plan for the Retreat Center, and thankful for the staff and board members that God has put in place to carry on His mission here.

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