Enter one way, and leave another way!
“Alice in Wonderland” was a favorite when I was younger – do you remember it? Silly, thoughtful, quotable…. The cover of my current journal has an Alice quote and I pause every time I see it (which is often – my journal a treasure to me, and I’m almost never without it!) It says, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
“I was a different person then” – let’s take a selah: pause and calmly think of that.
As Christ-followers, we ought to be different every day. The Bible has so much to say about being new – here are a few favorites, but you can find lots more:
“Behold I shall do a new thing.” ~Isaiah 43:19
“His compassions fail not, they are new every morning.” ~Lamentations 3:22-23
“He has put a new song in my mouth.” ~Psalm 40:3
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” ~2 Corinthians 5:17
Moving into 2021, are you as desperate for something new as I am? Let’s skip to the end and say: 2020 was a long year, that year. However, the “next season” didn’t arrive at midnight on the 31st. New Year’s felt more like a continuation than a “re-set”, didn’t it?
I’m going off-track for a minute, but hang with me – I’ll circle back! Sometimes I think about a passage in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 46, the Lord gives instructions to the people about their manner of worship. Verse 9 stands out to me every time, as it explains how the people are to enter and exit the place of worship. The Lord tells them that is they enter by the south, then they are to exit by the north. If they enter by the north, they are to exit by the south. He emphasizes again, “He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate.” I’m sure that there is a historical and traditional context here, but let’s just make it as simple as possible for today: they were not supposed to leave the same way they came in. When they left, they were supposed to do it differently.
When I think about that, I think to myself: the Lord does not want me to leave His presence the same way I came in either. I came to Him for healing – He wants me to be well. I came to Him for comfort – He wants me to be full of joy. I came to Him heavy hearted – He wants me to take on His light yoke. I came to Him broken – He wants me to be whole. He is able and faithful and trustworthy and kind – He can do all of these things and more. I am not supposed to leave the same way I came in. Enter sick, leave well. Enter sad, leave joyful. Enter broken, leave whole. Enter one way, and leave another way.
“Leave” means two things: we can leave a location, and we can also leave an item. When we left healed, we left the sickness behind. When we left whole, we left the brokenness behind. Adopt a new mentality: “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Purpose to leave those things which are holding you back or tying you down: you were made new in His presence! Refuse to return to those things! You are a new creature – be new!
In our walk with the Lord, we ought to be ever changing, ever growing, ever evolving. Our own spiritual thought process ought to be “it’s no use going back” – you are a new creature, a new creation! Embrace change – and wake up tomorrow morning with the new mentality: “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
Be aware: it is a choice. Once the Lord makes you whole, you can (sadly) return to the thing that made you broken. Once the Lord gives you joy, you can (unfortunately) return to the thing that made you heavy-hearted. Sometimes we allow the broken-ness or sickness or anger or whatever-it-is-holding-you-back-from-abundant-life-fill-in-your-own-blank-here to become part of our self. Setting aside those weights (Hebrews 12:1) leaves an empty spot which the Lord will fill if we let Him. Refuse to go back, even if it is familiar – push forward. “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
Of course, now that we’ve spent some time in the presence of the Lord, we’ll say it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…” (2 Cor. 5:17) and we’ll say it this way: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” (Isaiah 43:19). And friend, you shall know it! Leave different than the way you came today – purpose to embrace the new and treasure change!
To be honest, 2020 changed us. We didn’t want to leave the same way we came in anyway, did we? Discovering that the Lord’s presence brings a new thing, even when it’s tough – that’s a treasure! Praying you are growing forward into 2021!