Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. – Isaiah 43:18 (NRSVUE)
As a sentimental packrat, my basement contains numerous boxes of “former things.” Photos, band flyers, cringy teen journals, letters, random ephemera—every item once holding enough meaning to justify keeping. With each annual basement cleaning, I’m able to release more stuff. Can’t remember why I kept it? Toss it.
But some souvenirs suck me back in a time warp. Locked in a reminiscing-romanticizing-regret trance, I lose perspective of present realities and future possibilities. Invariably, a favorite Fugazi lyric snaps me out of it: “You can’t be what you were, so you better start being just what you are.” The object then goes back in the box as a treasure, or in the bin as trash. I move forward.
“Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing. Do you not perceive it?”
Whether the mountains of memories tower high in our basements or in our hearts and minds, the pilgrimage through the Valley of Former Things is a mix of perilous pitfalls and alluring side trails: failures, mistakes, dashed hopes, loss and lost loves, expectations, former glory, old identities, past ways of being and believing. It’s easy to get disoriented or even stranded.
Remaining in that valley, we risk obstructing our view of new things and now things. But God beckons us forward on our journey. Pause, but don’t dwell. Look around, but keeping moving on the path. God has made a way through the wilderness of what was, guiding us to the wondrous possibilities of what will be.
Divine Way-Maker, help us navigate the former things obstructing our view of present realities and future possibilities. Amen.