A spiritual reset for 2021
“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NKJV).
A curious sensation interjected my thoughts throughout much of 2020. It was a sense that we were in the middle of a slow-motion test, and that we could pass it only if we took it at slow-motion speed—being still and knowing that God is God—the Lord God Almighty. I wavered between wondering if we were in a drawn-out Titanic-like sinking, and God was simply giving us time to wake up and shape up, or if things would turn around and simply get better. I doubt I would have trouble finding people who would still agree with either sentiment. As believers, we know how human history will end—we know that we are in a slow-motion journey toward the end of the world as we know it, or even toward the end of our own lives, whichever comes first. But whenever I recalled what many were battling globally in 2019, and in the years before that, I knew that the second possibility, things simply “getting better,” could not happen without some major transformations taking place in the hearts of God’s human creation across all levels of society—and not just where I lived, but around the world.
And now we’re facing a new year, still saddled with what feels like a permanent state of upheaval after what we thought would just be a few weeks of intense inconvenience. Slowly, all the distractions we have entertained are being removed; if we found replacements, their effectiveness is waning. With desperation increasing, we need answers and help for our very present trouble.
What might God be doing?
The prophet Isaiah was chosen by the Lord to call the people of Judah, Israel, and surrounding nations back to Himself, and to prepare them for Christ’s coming. For most of his 60-year ministry, roughly the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, he warned them about their sin and all of the priorities (substitutes and idols) they were placing ahead of God. Then, in the remaining chapters, God’s Spirit used Isaiah to bring words of comfort and reassurance. They were told they would be released from captivity in Babylon. They could expect sweet fulfilment of God’s promise to bring salvation and the establishment of a new and permanent kingdom, beginning in the hearts of all who turned to Him by faith. That salvation would ultimately come through Jesus.
The Book of Isaiah has long been one of my favourites. Its words continually jump out at me, and even more so in this season. Whatever spiritual examination I personally failed to do in 2020, I recognize that I still have the time to do now. Whatever distress I feel as news becomes worse instead of better, I can still trust God for a reset now. And when it comes to regrets, as God exhorted Israel then, He exhorts us now—don’t look back at what was; look ahead. He can make a road in the wilderness and bring streams of water into any desert. As a supernaturally inspired people, we walk by faith and not by sight, understanding that He is pleased by this (2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:6). In repentance and quietness we will find rest—rest that will be elusive if we try to figure out our own solutions to the new dilemmas we face (Isaiah 30:15-17).
God is a gracious, patient and willing teacher. We were specially chosen for this unique season of unparalleled pressure. Even as we wrestle with our own disappointment at our personal response, we can trust that God is still doing His good, sanctifying work in us (Philippians 1:6).
We cannot go wrong by keeping our focus on Jesus and pressing deeper into the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14). Our quiet times with God in the Word will continue to bring urgently needed clarity because of His heart for us—that we come through this period looking more like Christ and holding an even deeper conviction that we are truly His. May this knowledge, and His grace and mercy, continue to carry us through 2021.
This article appeared in the January/February/March 2021 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2021 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.