I am a complete sucker for the newest, greatest app. You know the ones—they’re all the rage and they clog up your social media newsfeed until you finally break down and download them.
A few months ago, Timehop blipped across my radar. I really loved the concept of the app—a quick, daily glimpse into my social media posts from years past. I became slightly obsessed. I couldn’t wait to open it up and look back and smile at the posts and pictures that walked me down memory lane: happy times with friends, babies being born, random glimpses into my classroom, words from the Lord. They always brought a smile to my face.
Until they didn’t.
Amidst the little bits of happiness were reminders of times full of uncertainty, pain, and confusion. And then every once in a while, I’d stumble across a happy memory now distorted by heartache and pain.
For a while, I couldn’t bear to open up Timehop. I didn’t want to be reminded of the times I’d spent grappling with the tough parts of life. And as for the sweet memories turned sour, time spent reminiscing about those good times gone bad always led to tears of brokenness over damaged relationships and time lost wandering in the desert.
I recently spent a weekend at a youth conference as a chaperone. On the very first night, the speaker said something that made my spiritual ears perk up. I flipped back a few pages in my journal and was shocked to see that my pastor had preached on the same passage of scripture exactly two months prior.
As I skimmed over my notes, I was overwhelmed with tears. At the close of his sermon, my pastor asked our congregation two questions. What is keeping you crippled before Christ? What do you want more than Him? The answers I’d scrawled across the pages of my journal were gut-wrenchingly honest. They were also pretty ugly, raw and full of scars—hard to allow myself to read.
As the speaker at the conference continued his message, I slowly realized that over the past two months, the Lord had moved me past the things that had been crippling me. I just wasn’t aware of the small steps He’d been taking to fully shift my focus back to Him. The entire weekend was full of confirmations that the Lord was indeed preparing to move me into a new, spacious place with Him.
After the conference was over, I spent some time trying to process all that the Lord had done in my heart. I started flipping around in my journal some more, and the more I read, the more I cried. I had spent months pleading with God to mend broken places and take away the hurt inside me. In my self-centered prayers, I prayed for my will and not for His.
I was looking back at those sweet times turned sour, the same ones I couldn’t bear to face on Timehop, and begging for him to redeem the time. I was looking back instead of praying forward. It was debilitating not only in my personal life but also in my ability to minister within the strategic places I’ve been positioned.
Just this week Melissa Moore tweeted, “On the shoreline we’re waiting and waiting for that same old sea to part, meanwhile God’s out paving a new way, creating rivers in the desert.” It stopped me in my tracks. I may have even shouted a little! We have to learn to stop allowing our past hurts and past experiences control the direction of our focus. We must constantly be seeking the One who is able to create streams in our wastelands.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
The Lord sees far beyond what our natural eyes can see. He sees beyond our past, our hurts, our fears, our weaknesses. He’s searching out places in the wastelands of our wilderness to bring streams of life. He may choose to redeem the hurts and pains of the past, but He may just be building new places of refreshment and growth in the most unlikely of places.
As for Timehop? I’m loving it again these days. I’m thankful for every opportunity to see the areas in which the Lord has been faithful to change and grow me—even if it means facing the hard times head on. There’s a difference in dwelling on the past, getting lost in the hurt and pain and looking to the past as a reminder of where you’ve been as the Lord moves you forward. The key is keeping our focus on Him—the maker of streams in the desert.
If you know someone who needs this encouragement today, will you email them this post?