It seems to me that one of the greatest obstacles (perhaps I should say, challenges) that God has to get around and break through is our attempt to cling to the old. Jesus faced this challenge. The Jews, wanting to put this young firebrand in his place said, “We have Abraham and the prophets—are you greater than they?” It is always the old order that people deem God-given, or sacrosanct, or truth, while the new is viewed as a threat, a dangerous course, a false way. The past (the old) gets between us and the future—and many there are who crawl behind what is “old” and then grow rigid, unwilling and unable to embrace what is new (the future). This pernicious habit of going back and attempting to live in another (imagined) time has become particularly prevalent in the current slogan “Make America Great Again.” The slogan implies America was greater once upon a time than it is now and we must hold on to that (whatever we think it is). We stuff our ears with cotton and refuse to hear the sound of the new, because we sense that the new way always threatens the old way. Our minds are closed on the matter.
We hold up the past like some kind of sacred symbol and try to frighten “life” back out of the inevitable future. We have Abraham and the prophets, the Jews told Jesus, we don’t need a new voice, a new idea, or a new messiah. Like the Hebrews of old, we don’t want to wander about in an unknown wilderness—we would simply prefer to remain in Egypt, no matter the consequences. The past is enough. We’re not about to budge. In God we trust—but only the God of yesterday.
But God ignores such a notion. God is the future and though we may be led into some strange paths along the way, we need to trust that with his pillar of cloud by day and fire by night we can grow out of what has been, and leave it, like Egypt there! My experience is that God has always been “ahead” of me, leading me forward, not backward.