Lent Devotions: Looking and moving forward

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).           

By Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga   

Isaiah 43:16-21

Some years ago I was going through hard times; I was feeling like an outcast in my homeland. I had desires and interests that did not match the expectations nor the path of those around me. I felt isolated and lonely, like an émigré in my own land. There was a big ocean separating me from what I wished to become and what I was. And then a miracle happened: God took control and opened that ocean so I could pass through and became the person He/She always intended me to be. Not only did I find a new place, but people that shared my ideals and beliefs.

A couple years later I found myself in the same predicament; after a process of blossoming and growing, I was back again in that gloomy place. But this time it felt much different, it felt worse. After having experienced so much autonomy I was captive again, and in my despair, I could only dream of the freedom I once experienced that now seemed so far away. I was in exile once again, daydreaming about the past and refusing to believe I could be liberated again.

Very often we experience miraculous things in our lives, so extraordinary and marvelous that they change completely who we are. And we often focus so much on that experience that most of what takes place in the present is of no great significance. The God that took His/Her people out of Egypt and again out of Babylon wants us not only to remember the great things God has done for us in the past, but also to focus on the promises for the future. We do not move forward by clinging to the past. Our faith is in a God who creates a better future than anything we have known in the past. We can remember the former things, but our calling is to look forward, and to move forward and to never stop until the promises are finally fulfilled.

Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga is pursuing a Master of Divinity at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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