Day 1: A Look Back
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. (Psalm 9:1-2 ESV)
I heard my friend say in his prayer, “Lord, if we don’t have a 'used-to-be' story, then we don’t have a changed life for today or the future.” All the guys around the table, including myself, have a “used-to-be” story where God has drastically reformed and transformed our lives. We connected instantly with this man’s logic. It is encouraging to see the changes that God has made in our life, but it is alarming, as well, to see ourselves continuing to make immature choices because we have not permitted other changes. All of us are still hung up in the wilderness in some area, and we need to escape from it. But that is not a deal breaker for God’s love. He just wants better for us and is trying to help us find our way out. The truth is, no matter how much we mature in our faith and wisdom, there is still plenty of room left for improvement. That is a given. But it is also a given that we can get stuck in a “wilderness” and never get out until we begin an earnest pilgrimage “out” with the Lord.
The purpose of my series this week is to help us see the importance of embracing our journey with Christ going forward. I will do this by challenging you to start with a “look back” in life so you can see that God has been revealing Himself to you, even though you may not have realized it. This is what David did when he penned the Psalm referenced above. After reading the verse above, I did my own “look back.” At seventy-one years of age, I can now see that God was revealing Himself to me at an early age. Oh, I didn’t connect any dots at that point. It took more time and life experiences to understand what I had seen and felt.
Through the years, I gained more knowledge about Him. But I didn’t really get to know Him until I was knocked around through some life experiences; that's when that knowledge began to make sense. Then my eyes were opened to what He had been showing me about Himself all along. Here is what I have learned: There is more to God than I know, and He wants me to know Him better each day. I have learned that He is faithful. He is honest. He is dependable. He loves me. He wants best for me. He has shown me that I must learn to trust Him more deeply, and He deserves my trust. He has also taught me that He has a vision for my life since first knowing me, and His work in my life is to mold me into the man of that vision.
As I look back and recount my experiences in life that had critical crossroads where I could have gone either way, there was something that directed me down a particular path. Some of those paths were delightful, and some were very hard and disappointing, but they all led to a closer walk with Jesus, eventually. In fact all my life paths have somehow led to a time in life of knowing God and myself better, even though my journey stalled from time to time. These things could not have been random or coincidence. It has not been luck, or by my skillful planning, that has led me to a time in life where I am living the desires of my heart, as mentioned in Psalms 37:4.
Like David, as I look back I see a plan that unfolded before me that led me to this day, and the life I now live. Jesus has shown these things to me about Himself, and it makes me very enthusiastic to help others see God’s love and interest in them as well. This is why I write and mentor and pour into other lives. I want you to see and know Jesus as I am seeing Him, for what I am seeing and understanding about Him is beautiful.
So my question to you is: What about you? Have you taken the time to do a “look back” in your life to see the truth of how God has been reaching to you? What do you see? Can you see critical crossroads in your life that directed you one way or another? Where was God in your life at that crossroad? Were you listening to Him, or were you oblivious to Him? Do you feel that He let you down in something or with someone, or do you feel you let Him down? But, do you also see how He turned things back to Him and redeemed your life from either your mistakes or bad things done against you?
I have an idea that each of you will begin to see God in a different light when you take the time to simply recount His wonderful deeds in your life. The good news about looking back is how it helps us going forward. So let’s move forward by starting with our past. We will talk about the future tomorrow.
To ignore the history of God in our life is to have little understanding of our present situation with Him, and to have no concept of the future that He holds for us.