What Are You Leaving Behind?

It was sad that we had to leave some things behind after our five-week visit to Normandy, France this past summer. And I'm not just referring to family or some damaged luggage. During our visit, I got a "hankering" for a good, old fashioned butter cookie to eat along with my evening coffee during movie time. The French know how to bake almost anything delicious, but I had to "get my fix" at the local grocery store. It was a "packaged item," but it hit the spot and became an instant favorite each day. The product was labeled, "Petit e'colier" and was a little buttery biscuit half-dipped in rich milk chocolate. Each one had a royal-like imprint of a little school boy.

My sister-in-law really doesn't regularly eat these sugary delights and certainly is not as fond of them as I am. But when we left behind two boxes on her counter, she decided not to waste them. She ate each 2-pack of cookies until they were all gone... three months later! But just before the final bites, she took a picture and sent it to me with the parting comment, "The last one!" I wrote back, "I am sad! I loved those little cookies!!" And it is true that I have yet to find a replacement this side of the Atlantic!

What are you leaving behind these days? Are you moving on from something or someone? It could be an unpleasant habit, a dysfunctional friendship, a job that is boring, or any number of other negative categories. It takes courage to change! It takes faith in the God who is Sovereignly charting our life's course and is always way out in front of us. I have been subscribing to this life motto for years that "God is always getting us ready for what He's getting us ready for!"

Turning over a new leaf is challenging. You have to break some habits of familiarity. You have to begin to look at things differently. You have to act on your intuitions when all the facts are not available. You need to be open to diverse ideas. This takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you squarely in situations of uncertainty. But as you turn these new corners, you get to see God working in amazingly new ways.

 A high point in Jewish history was when God delivered them from four-hundred years of slavery and forced labor. The Exodus was their opportunity to part with a painful past through a miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea. As spectacular as that parting of the waters was, Israel often wondered if God was finished with delivering them by new displays of His power for new beginnings.

During the Jewish pre-exilic period, Isaiah prophesied a warning from the Lord along with His intentions for the future, "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now, it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Is. 43:18-19). Israel would eventually discover that the Exodus was repeatable, but only if they remained willing to step out of the past by faith.

I like the predictable, but I have to ask myself, "Where is a faith walk in all of this?" Why should I trust God and depend upon Him if I know what is coming each day? I love the old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God, My Father. There is a Bible verse in the book of Lamentations that likely informed and inspired this great affirmation, "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:21-23).

What are we missing by our resistance to the new? Rather than offering us a formula for faith and trust in this life, God offers instead His steadfast love, mercies and faithfulness. As we leave some things behind and enter new chapters, beginnings and experiences, let us follow God's leadership with the certainty that our faith is grounded in a faithful God who rescues us and makes all things new!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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