The Upper Room Devotion for Thursday, May 25, 2023, was written by Jerry White of Florida.
18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 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. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
Isaiah 43:18-21 NIV
I identify with the baby bird that lingers in its nest outside my door. Its three siblings flew away yesterday, and it is alone. Its parents flutter by in the mornings and evenings, sometimes providing food, but mostly urging the little one to spread its wings and fly. But the baby bird is hesitant. Over and over it hops to the edge of the nest, looks around and down, and then retreats to the only place it has known. I identify with the baby bird because I have been afraid to move on too many times.
Whether it is beginning school for the first time, changing schools, leaving home, getting married, beginning a new job, moving to a new place, or retiring, life is filled with uncertainty. It is easy to hop to the edge of my comfortable nest, look around, and want to retreat to the security of what I know. But just as God promised the people in today’s scripture reading, God will always be doing new things, always providing a way, always giving us fresh reasons to move out, to do God’s bidding and to proclaim God’s love. Because God is our shelter, we can step to the edge of our nests, open our wings, and fly with confidence in a faithful God.
The summer before beginning third grade, my brother and I went to visit our grandparents. When it was time to come home, I refused. I didn’t refuse because I wanted to spend more time with my grandparents, although they were amazing. I refused because I was afraid to start third grade. Although I would be returning to the same school, I would be in a new classroom. After the comfort and counsel of my grandfather, who shared all the new things I’d get to experience, I finally relented.
It is often difficult for us to embrace change, to leave the familiar and comfortable for the unknown, and to learn new things. The older we get the more we retreat, replacing our curiosity with stagnation. Yet, God consistently urges us to embrace learning new things and experiencing new levels of grace. As people of faith, it can be uncomfortable to step outside our personal preferences in order to engage in practices that appeal to a larger audience. We often spiritualize our likes, while demonizing what others like in order to justify why “our way” is better. Yet, to do so denies that work of God, that is constantly growing and expanding in new ways. We can, like I did for third grade, refuse to move forward, but doing so holds us hostage to our past when God is leading us toward the future.
O God, give me courage today to move out of my place of comfort and move on to the opportunities and relationships you have prepared for me. Amen. - Jerry White