Sometimes we have those days when nothing seems right. You may have done something that bothers you and it eats at you. It is a sin but now it is over. You can’t undo it and you have asked His forgiveness but it just sets there bugging you, keeping you from enjoying your day, keeping you from effective prayer, giving you the feeling that you are lost. For me this situation often manifests itself as a yearning to do something but I can’t get started, I can’t get focused. I am dwelling on the past, a past that I cannot change and I can’t see that the past has probably taken me to where I am now. And now, I can’t see the new things that God has presented me with today.
Blinded by the past…
And then I read my devotion for the day and it references Isaiah 43:18-19. The Words of this Scripture are “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
What has happened?
Has God manifest Himself in my life, my everyday, humdrum life?
John Bevere writes about how God manifests Himself in the lives of His followers. Manifest means “to make clear to the eye or the understanding; show plainly.” Jesus says that He will make himself known to those who follow Him.
But there is a catch. I know; you are thinking “there is always a catch!”
Here it is. You can hear it in the words of Paul from 2 Corinthians 7:1, “…Let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.”
You can know Jesus’ full intention by reading John 14, 19, 21: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves me…I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Bevere says manifest in this context means the Christian has a chance to gain intimate understanding, knowledge and insight about God…”to bring from the unseen into the seen realm, from the unheard into the heard, and from the unknown into the known” [Bevere, Good or God?, 125]. His manifest presence is accessible to every child of God, but only those who obey His words experience this privilege.
I believe I have experienced His presence in church services, in prayer, while reading His word or just going about an ordinary day. You may have too.
And yes, I certainly have experienced His presence in the midst of the trials of my life, when I was suffering, when I was overwrought with anxiety and fear, when I was confused and wandering without direction.
At those times, God does not give up on me and he does not give up on you. He extends His hand to us in grace and mercy. Because of His Son Jesus, He understands the problems we all face and He desires for us to continue to pursue Him.
This past Sunday, I had another opportunity to teach an adult Sunday school class. I love my class. Sometimes we get off track but I work hard to bring them back and Sunday’s lesson was what I call a squirming message. The topic was “What Keeps You from Reading God’s Word?” You see, I know that on most Sundays I face some mighty fine Christians who have not had much relationship with The Bible and that is ok. It is a choice they have made. They may know that they should read it but things get in the way. At the beginning of class, I told them all that I wanted the message to be uplifting but at the same time honest. I asked them this question: “What gets in the way of reading the Bible?” They responded to the question and soon the board was full of reasons for not opening the Bible.
Then a man confronted me with this statement. “David are you saying I am not much of a Christian because I don’t read the Bible? I think I am a good Christian.”
My reply: “I know you are a good Christian; you have come a long way but do you want more?” Like all of us, he has his struggles and at times [like me], he feels defeated by some aspects of his life that are holding him back. I felt a strong sense that he [like me] needed to let go of his past.
You see, the past is not our focus. We truly cannot undo the things we have done, but we can find a way forward if we trust our Lord to guide us. The dark clouds of the past can be blown away by our simple trust and our pursuit of God and His ways. We don’t have to fall into the habits that hold us back…we can see the newness that God will present to us.
Maybe part of that newness may just be the manifestation of God.