“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 first time I recall hearing this passage of scripture was about 20 years ago, and it was from an unexpected source. I was working at a small newspaper at the time and was interviewing a woman from a local church about an event they were hosting. At the end of our interview, she simply said, “I believe the Lord wants me to share this with you,” and she recited Isaiah 43:18-19.

I didn’t grow up in the church and knew very little about prophecy, but I received this “word” from a stranger, and it brought tears to my eyes. This woman knew almost nothing about me or my circumstances, but God did.

My kids were young then, just 6, 3, and 1. My husband was working full-time as a carpenter, often getting up at 4 a.m. to drive an hour to construction job sites, then going to school at night to get his teaching degree. I was working at the newspaper, taking care of three little kids, and we were broke. I mean really broke. I remember one week having $9 left for groceries after paying bills. We had some stuff in the cupboards, and I managed to make it work. I bought eggs, milk, cheap bread, tuna, pasta, canned green beans, and made it last. I got very creative with canned tuna that week!

I wasn’t just broke, I was tired. I mean really tired. Tired from lack of sleep, lack of money, and needy little kids. I was juggling so much, trying to make ends meet and keep everyone fed and happy. It was a struggle. And I didn’t see an end in sight.

That’s when God gave me this verse through a kind stranger. You can see why I cried. A way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (the wilderness of my weary soul, the wasteland of my budget, my time, my life…) That’s what I needed to hear.

I also had a lot of guilt over how we’d gotten ourselves into this situation — poor planning and poor budgeting. So verse 18 that says, “do not dwell on the past,” was incredibly comforting to me too. It reminded me of God’s grace that not only wipes away our sins and mistakes and shortcomings, but actually turns them into something good — to weave a more beautiful tapestry out of our lives.

But it was mostly the fact that God was doing something new that encouraged me. There was hope! That got me through. And indeed, He was doing a new thing. Although it took many years to get beyond being broke, and there were certainly many other hard times, and difficult things we went through, our lives look very different today. Our kids survived — and even thrived. Hey, we didn’t ruin them!

My husband finished his degree, started a much more stable career as a teacher, and eventually received his Masters in teaching, which has been a huge blessing. My work at the newspaper led to another, bigger paper, and eventually landing the role of Editor in Chief. And that bigger newspaper led me to my current job in marketing and communications at an amazing nonprofit that does humanitarian work in the world’s poorest places.

Many times over the years, God has brought these verses back to me, often when I needed them most. Or someone else did. A sweet reminder that He is always doing something new.

I love that the promise in these verses is in the present tense. It’s not that He’s “going to do a new thing, eventually.” He is — right now.


This moment.

Currently doing a new thing.

Do you not perceive it?

What’s He doing that’s new — springing up now — in your life? How is He making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland? What from your past does He want you to forget and not dwell on any longer?

One of the many blessings of this time of staying home is that I’ve slowed down. On my walks, I notice signs of this incredible season “springing” up all around. Last year, I planted my first peony tubers. For some reason, I had always been afraid to plant peonies. Everyone told me they’re hard to grow. But I love their giant puffy blossoms so much, I decided to try. It was hard to imagine round, pink peonies blooming forth from this woody, brown tuber I placed in the ground last fall, but guess what? Not only has a rich, dark green plant popped up over the past few weeks, but there are also two buds forming — springing forth — from that plant! I’m so excited to see what God is doing, creating, making beautiful inside those buds.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like God is doing something new in me. But He’s saying, “It may not look like you thought it would, or be the “new thing” you thought it would be, but I am doing something new — right here, right now. And I’m making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Look around for those signs of new life, of something beautiful forming under God’s hand, wherever you are in your life right now. Look for those, and share them with others.

He’s doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt crafts and shares the story of World Concern, where she has served in marketing and communications for the past 10 years. Prior to that, she was a writer, journalist, and Editor in Chief of a group of monthly feature-driven community newspapers in Seattle. She’s a diehard Seattle Sounders fan, a mom of three amazing grown kids, and the wife of the best third grade teacher in the state of Washington – maybe the whole world.

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