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Both/And

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Sep 14 in Dan's Musings
 “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you!”  Satchell Paige, the old Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, is credited with this sage piece of advice.  There’s some real wisdom here.  We have to look ahead, concerned with what God is putting in front of us and choosing the right route for the future. We can’t be stuck in the past. At the same time, however, we NEED to look back. Not in fear that something is chasing us, but to honor people who have mentored us, and learn from experiences we don’t have. We study history with an eye toward not making the same mistakes previous generations did...which we rarely are able to do.  So we want to look back. To look ahead. It’s both/and, not either/or.
God seems to understand this well. Over and over in the Old Testament he says to his people: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”  As Israel encountered challenges and their faith wavered, the Lord would remind them of their past. They were the people God had miraculously saved, rescued and redeemed. He had provided leadership and dealt with oppressors and opened up the Red Sea and closed it upon their enemies. Any time the present or future looked frightening, God pointed them back to history. That history reminded them of their own identity and of God’s faithfulness and helped them trust for the future.
           
We could learn from this. The future seems fraught with challenges and fears. Much of the news from around the world is bad news. It is easy to choose isolationism, and it is hard to know the right decisions to make. Maybe this is a good time to look at your own life. Rehearse the history. Think about the circumstances of your coming to faith in the first place.  Ponder times God has shown up or spoken to you. Look back and remember something that you can point to and say “Oh, yes, I didn’t even know it at the time, but later I realized...God was with me.” Try it. Stack a few of these memories on top on one another. It isn’t for the sake of nostalgia. My experience is that when we look back, we gain faith and trust and wisdom that enable us to live into the future. 
After all, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).   
 
Knowing this, we can look back. So we can live ahead. It isn’t either/or. It’s both/and.
 
          See you soon,
 
                         Pastor Dan

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