For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Going Forward By Looking Back

I've shared on this blog before about the value in looking back (read here and here). Recently, I've been reminded again of the value of that occasional backward glance.

My last post, obviously, was about our 20th Wedding Anniversary. Certainly, we've enjoyed looking back at the last 20 years, reminding ourselves of the glorious grace of God we've seen over and over.

Then, last week my folks came and spent a few days with the kids so Cheryl and I could go spend some time together. We had a wonderful time just being with each other, visiting a couple places we did on our honeymoon, reflecting on how things had changed, etc. One of the things we did while on that trip was have one of those “old fashioned” pictures taken. Aside from just being fun, the whole thing reminded me again of the value of looking back. In a day when everyone seems to be looking for the next “new” thing, trying to be contemporary and “relevant”, we occasionally need to be reminded that looking back may be more “relevant” to our walk of faith.

Trying to reach a wayward people, God says through Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls’” (Jer. 6:16, ESV). There is rest in the ancient paths; that is the ways of God and His Word.

John Gill writes of that text: “Now, in religious things, the Scriptures are the way mark to direct us which way we should take: if the inquiry is about the way of salvation, look up to these, which are able to make a man wise unto salvation; these show unto men that the way of salvation is not works of righteousness done by them, but Christ only: if the question is about any doctrine whatever, search the Scriptures, examine them, they are profitable for doctrine; they tell us what is truth, and what is error: if the doubt is about the matter or form of worship, and the ordinances of it, look into the Scriptures, they are the best directory to us what we should observe and do.”

Again, as I’ve said in those previous posts, I like some “new” stuff. I like Newsboys and Flame as well as John Newton and Fanny Crosby. I like John’s MacArthur and Piper as well as John’s Calvin and Edwards. I’m not saying that God has only worked in the past.

But when we want to check our progress and advancement in the things of God, it’s often beneficial to look back, to see where we’ve been, to see if we are in line with the ancient paths. To quote one of the “new” guys: "It’s time/ press stop and rewind/ go back roll back right now/ with creeds and church history/ lets stop and see if we missed a beat." (from Flame-Rewind)

Cheryl and I enjoyed looking back over the last 20 years, rejoicing in God’s blessings, re-examining various struggles, etc. In all, we re-affirmed that we are on the “right course” in our family. The church family needs to make the same evaluations from time to time. Let’s compare ourselves to those “old fashioned” pictures and be sure that we are remaining true to the faith, and that our forward movement is faithful to the ancient paths God has called us to walk in.

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