A Captive of the Past?

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Do you spend a lot of time looking back? These days I tend rummage around in my memories more than I once did. Yesterday I went up to the attic and found a little table and chair set that my late father-in-law made for my kids. As I showed it to my daughter asking if she wanted it for my grandson, I flipped over one of the little chairs where this was stamped “Grandpa Keith 12/23/83.” A flood of memories of a houseful of toddlers swept over me.

Nostalgia can be sweet …   and a trap! Our past should not be forgotten – both trials and triumphs – because those things are the fertile soil from which the present grows, after all! But, it is impossible to be productive and emotionally healthy lives if life is only a back-ward look.

Genesis tells that sordid and tragic story of the destruction of Sodom, of Lot’s family being rescued by the messengers of the LORD prior to the destruction. Tucked into the narrative there is this little line –“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26, NIV) She could not let go of what was, could not anticipate God’s plans for the future. Her fate is a kind of warning to us all who would only look to the past. We will become frozen, rigid, and resistant to the will of God.

Paul, who we first meet as Saul, was a man who hated Believers in Christ. His zealotry made him a violent persecutor of the Church, a man actively trying to destroy the Gospel and those who followed Jesus.  God’s grace found him and changed him. Now could he, would he, overcome the regrets? If Paul dwelt in the past, he might well have withdrawn from the world, regretful and remorseful. But, he did not forget nor did he revel in those failures.  Later, Paul founded many churches, one being in the city of Ephesus. There his message found great success. Did he abandon his calling to the world to try to hang onto that moment of triumph? No. He celebrated the success and followed Jesus onward.

He says of the past – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)  He refused to become a captive of the past.

This is our declaration as we meet today – be it full of promise or a thicket of challenges – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, NIV)

Most of us, when young, tend to live too much in the future. As we grow older, we tend to live in the past. But, God works in the present!

The word from the Word is from the 90th Psalm.
“Teach us to make the most of our time,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
O Lord, come back to us! How long will you delay?
Take pity on your servants!  

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
Replace the evil years with good.
Let us see your miracles again;
let our children see your glory at work.

And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!”
(Psalm 90:12-17, NLT)

_________

Living Hope
(young and old, He is our living hope)

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me

Jesus Yours is the victory whoa

 \Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham © 2017 Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

Simply Global Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

CCLI License # 810055

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