I was reading in Isaiah. I love how, when you set your mind to spending time with God and seeking Him through His word, he lets you discover different things each time. It's like He wraps up a passage in a gift and ministers to you through that comfort.
Isaiah 52:12b ~
The Lord will go ahead of you;
Yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
It almost seems like an oxymoron. It doesn't say 'and,' it just emphasizes the first statement with an opposite one. But, He is omnipresent. He will do both at once.
It's such a comforting picture. Going in a dark alley, the Lord goes and scouts up ahead, while at the same time He guards the back, so you aren't attacked by surprise. You don't have to worry about the dark corners, nor what's awaiting you up ahead, nor what's going on behind you. All you have to do is focus on keeping your footing- staying concentrated on your current spot. You trust His guidance up ahead, and you don't need to risk a check over your shoulder. You know that you're safe, and that it's not up to you to face what's up ahead- at least, not alone. The fears behind you are simply that. Behind you. They cannot torment you anymore, because God's got your back, He will keep you safe.
That's a beautiful thought, and it's true. That metaphorical picture is very assuring. However, when I first read that verse, my mind was directed to another meaning. A much more practical one.
He will go ahead of you in life. He sees every laugh, tear, trouble, and lesson that you are walking towards. He knows you will make it through, because He is with you. You can't see the future, but He has gone ahead and will lead you where you need to go.
At the same time, He picks up the trail of where you just were. We are impoerfect people, so we will undoubtedly leave that trail a mess. We try to fix things up, but we do keep moving forward. Satan sees the mess we've made of our lives, so he tries to haunt us. "Did you really do all of that? You are a terrible person. God surely doesn't want to be your Savior after He saw that catastrophe!"
But thankfully, God protects us from behind. He sees what we've done, but He sticks with us, and wants to protect us from the devil's lies. I love that whole picture. Our past doesn't have to maim us. All we have to do is take things one day at a time.
I can be such a worrier. Even today, if you ask some of my friends whom I was ranting at about all my troubles and hopes and dreams, you'll find that I am very quick to see the problems in my life. Something is cancelled that I was looking forward to. Something difficult in the near future is looming ahead of me, and I fear to face it. Growing up is upon me, and I feel unprepared. I worry that I will not make it in life- that I am wasting my time doing pointless activities when I should be working towards building my future, bright and beautiful.
But see, all that stressing is completely pointless. God's already been there! He's already seen my future, and I'm sure that when He sees me biting my nails over what is to come of me, He must chuckle to Himself thinking, "Doesn't she realize that I work all things together for the good of those who love Me? Why is she worrying?!" But it's so true! I think my mind has known for a long time that God has planned my future, seen my future, knows my future, and will by my Guide through it all. Worrying over what is planned perfectly- so futile. Everything is going to be okay.
I worry about the past. "Oh, maybe I shouldn't have said that to her the other day." "Great. Now they're going to think this about me." "Why, oh why was I not paying attention to the time?" "Man, I am SO embarrassed . . . ."
How senseless. It's over. It's done. I've learned my lesson, and hopefully made it right. When I say not to worry about the past, I don't mean that you simply ignore every mistake you make. No.
It's like your first time driving, maybe. Say you knock over a garbage can. You don't just keep driving and say, "Well, I've learned my lesson!" and then keep driving. You know better. If you knock something over you need to pull over, get out, and set it back up again. You make right what went wrong. You fix your mistake. But if you dented the garbage can, or if you actually broke something, it's harder to erase from your mind. Something so simple as knocking over the garbage, if someone saw, can wedge itself in your mind and you will feel an annoying sense of embarrassment over something that happened a week ago. Even if you picked it up, made it right, you still remember. It's the same in life.
We mess up. We sin. We hurt others. But we do our best to clean up after ourselves. I don't know about you, but when I do something really wrong, I can't sleep for days and days afterward. Doesn't matter how many times I apologized. It doesn't matter how many times I was forgiven, either. I still stress over what I did.
That's why God is protecting us from behind. After we've done all that we can to make it right, it's time to leave it up to the ultimate healer. He will protect us from the guilt that tugs, the devil that reminds us constantly, and will restore us. The lesson, we'll keep. The pain, He takes away.
So if He is watching our future, keeping track of every person and situation hurtling towards us and prepping us for it, why worry? He has it under control! And if He's guarding us from behind, taking care of everything, why stress over the past? Hakuna Matata! Have no fear, all you have to do is follow! He's preparing your path exactly how He wants it, exactly the way that will be best for you. So as long as you stick close to Him and follow where He guides you, you have NOTHING to fear.
Worrying over the future is unnecessary. What's going to happen will happen, whether you worry or not! Wasting energy by worrying is silly- because worrying doesn't add a day to your life. It doesn't do a single good thing for you. It's as redundant as pushing on a pull door.
Worrying over the past is pointless. It's like crying over spilled milk. It doesn't fix the past. It doesn't change what happened, it just adds gray hairs to your head.
The Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
Your future? He has it covered. The past? Taken care of.