Have you ever taken the time to look backward in your calendar? We live in a day where the mantra of “successful” people is usually, “never look back, always look forward.” Certainly, there’s merit in keeping a forward focus about life. We need to plan, plot, and program our schedules. Keeping a forward focus is also deeply-rooted in our faith, the Christian hope. We live with a futurist anticipation for the day when all things will be remade – when Christ will return to reign in justice and righteousness on the throne of David (cf. Jer. 23:1-8; 1 Peter 1:3-7).
Yet there is also something about looking backward that is thoroughly centered in biblical theology and Christian worship. We are guided in God’s Word to remember the Lord’s covenants with His people (cf. Gen 9:15, 15:1-21; Jer 31:27-40) and thoughtfully retrace how utterly dead we were in sin and how Christ brought us to new life through His blood (cf. Eph 2:1-19).
The apostle Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus this way:
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:11-13).
Thus, a look into the past can radically change how we respond today. Pondering the Lord’s acts of faithfulness and power in the past will bring us to renewed worship in the present.
Using an old Calendar?
One afternoon this past summer, just before a heavy rainstorm started drenching the landscape around Evangel Baptist‘s campus, I found myself looking through the past four months of summer events, camps, programs, conferences, and outreach activities. There were times when I thought most of us might possibly become totally lost in the flurry of action. Things started out like a rocket ship with our Grad Night celebration, then came NGO (Neighborhood Gospel Outreach) and “Cola Wars”. Summer Camp at Lake Ann quickly followed thereafter, along with intensive training for our teen mission trip. Then off we went to the Teen Leadership Conference at BBC, coupled with our mission work at Restored Church of Wilkes-Barre, PA. Others served Christ at Camp Barnabas during that same time, and then we all stormed back to our beloved Downriver community to ramp up for this year’s VBS and AWAKE outreach. And of course, all these big events coincided with our regular Youth Unleashed gatherings on Wednesdays and Sundays, worship team practices, and much more.
It would be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of logistics, organization, and energy required to run such a summer operation. But as I looked back through the months of May, June, July, and August, my heart was instead overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness and power. I was not necessarily drawn to worship Christ for “seeing us through to the completion” of all the events outlined above. No, I was instead drawn to worship the Savior for how he had given us the opportunity to see His Gospel bring life-transformation for some of the teens under our care… and in our own lives as well.
Over the past twelve months…
I remember… finally receiving a bound and completed edition of my Th.M. thesis from Dallas Theological Seminary in January. All praise to God for His great grace toward me so that I could finish this year-and-a-half long project!
I remember… seeing my little Everlynn’s face for the first time on February 6th. Holding my beautiful girly was (and still is) like nothing else I had ever before experienced. She is an amazing gift from our wonderful Creator…
I remember… watching Hudson (3 years old) attempt to carry “Papa’s Bible” into church one Sunday morning. He was so determined to manage the task without any help. Wow, how he has grown. 🙂
I remember… celebrating 4 years of marriage with my Darling, Stephanie. She is the most amazing and wonderful woman on earth. I simply do not deserve her love, devotion, encouragement, and care. She is my partner, lover, confidant, and friend. And she never ceases to shock me with her creativity and ingenuity. God knew just what I needed and I praise Him everyday for the gift of Stephanie.
I remember… the morning when one teenager openly confessed to all their peers how they had wronged other members of the youth group. And they did so purely by the initiative of the Holy Spirit bringing personal conviction to their heart! What a radical change God brought to this teenager’s life…
I remember… the dramatic life-shift occurring in a young man who decided to throw in the towel of “his plans” and wholeheartedly give his life for the mission of the Gospel. And then, getting to watch this guy boldly and passionately preach God’s Word. Wow.
I remember… our “teen missionaries” coming alive with the urgent mission of Christ in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA, as we passed out more than 3,000 water bottles to people thirsty for the One who alone provides eternal satisfaction and peace.
I remember… being given the opportunity to stand before an ordination council for examination of my calling, commitment, and doctrine. And by God’s grace, the council unanimously voted to recommend me for ordination as a minister of the Gospel.
And the list could go on and on…
What do you remember about God’s faithfulness and power over the last 12 months? I would LOVE to hear about it.
Life can be busy, cluttered, and hectic. And we always must keep moving forward with a focus on the future. But let’s not forget to take time to look backward too. You may be quite surprised how doing so might radically change how you respond in the present. You may also find yourself totally overwhelmed with a desire to worship God for His great, faithful love.
In Christ Alone,