Today is the 25th Anniversary of this church. God has been good as I look back. We didn’t even have the church building when we started. But God has given this beautiful building. We were renting Victoria Royce church at Annete and Keele and we used to come to West Deane Park and had a picnic after the service. I could see this church on the hill from the park and it was so beautiful. I just thought to myself, “how nice it would be if that were our church.” Who would have expected that we are worshipping right here? God has been good. You all worked so hard to build this community. I remember all those who did so much for the church. Together we have built a beautiful history.
As we look back our own personal lives, God has been so good. There were times when we didn’t know what to do. There were times when our future was so uncertain. There were times when we felt lost. God didn’t give up on us. God never abandoned us. God never left us orphaned. God did not leave us alone.
As the gospel song goes, even when I don’t see it you’re working, even when I don’t feel it you’re working, God never stopped working. God showed us the way. God made a way for us.
That was what Isaiah confessed in today’s passage.
Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick. (Isaiah 43:16, 17)
This reminds us of Exodus. He reminded the Israelites how God had brought them out of Egypt. He parted the sea and brought the Israelites out of the life of slavery.
We should never forget what God has done for us. If you write a journal, once in a while, go back to what you have written. You will see the trace of God right there. The Israelite prophets always reminded the people of the Exodus. The people remembered the Exodus event by making festivals and celebrating them like Passover.
As We Look Back
Our present does not exist in isolation. Our past, our present, and our future are all connected. God who was with us, is with us and will be with us. So, remembering our past is very important. As we look back, we can learn a lot, both from positive experiences and negative experiences. Somebody said, people who don’t know the history are damned to repeat it. That’s why Isaiah said in chapter 46,
Remember this and consider, … remember the former things of old (Isaiah 46:8, 9)
But in today’s passage, Isaiah said something totally opposite. He said,
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. (Isaiah 43:18)
Why did he say that? He explains in the next verse.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:19)
Our past is good to remember and be thankful and learn from it. But we cannot dwell on our past. When we dwell on our past, it will become a dead weight. It will shackle our minds and prohibits us from going further. God wants us to go further. God doesn’t want us to stay where we are. We cannot live exactly in the same way as we have lived before and expect a change. Wasn’t that what Einstein said about insanity?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
God will not repeat the same thing over again. God is the Creator. God is creative. God is innovative. God always creates new things. Be thankful for what God has done, is a beautiful thing to do. But don’t let that be an excuse to stay where we are because we are scared of facing our future.
God who has been good to us, will be good to us in the future too. There is nothing for us to be afraid of. There will no challenge that is too big for us to overcome. Greater things are awaiting for us.
Be Open to The Future
The Israelites were taken as captives and lived as captives in Babylon. While they were there, Babylon was destroyed by Persia. And the king of Persia, Cyrus had a new policy. He told the Israelites to go back to their home. But by then life in Persia was so comfortable. They didn’t want to go back. They didn’t want to face the uncertainty of their destroyed homeland. They were scared of facing new future. Cyrus even offered to give them money but they were scared of returning to their home country.
Isaiah said God would make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. God was about to do greater things. New things that God would do are so wondrous that you will not even remember your former things.
That is who our God is. God wants to do greater things through you. But you need to be ready. You need to have faith in God. What God will do in our lives is far beyond our imagination. What God will do through this church is far beyond our imagination. What we need is faith.
Be open to the possibility. Be open to the future. Have courage to face your future. That is what faith is. When we have this attitude, God will fill us with new energy, new thoughts, and new ideas. Small challenges will not discourage us and scare us. With the help of God, we can create new future. That was John’s vision in Revelation.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1)
That was what St. Paul cried out.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Fix your eyes on Jesus. He will let you see a new vision, a new future, and a new life. When you see fear, you will become lethargic. That is temptation. When we want to stay in our comfort like Israelites in the captivity, we will lose passion for life. We are not going to actualize the yet-unrealized possibilities.
Enjoy the comfort but do not be tempted to dwell in it. You will be drowned. Let us stand up. We have yet a life to live. We have yet things to do. We have yet dreams to pursue. Don’t be scared. God will be with us as He has always been. God will give us strength. God will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Have courage.
Next year’s theme is “Go Beyond!” Trust in God. We can do it.