Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Leonard Sweet, among others, has pointed out that to move into the future you have to get traction from the past.  It's like the swing sets we used to play on (and some of us still do).  You "pump" to gain altitude, making use of the backward momentum by tucking your feet underneath you, then as you move forward kicking your feet out straight in order to gain a little height on each swing.

In the same way, you don't move forward into the future by simply plotting it out.  You have to look back a bit, too.  You have to look backward to see who you are, where you've come from, how God has used you in the past, and the assets and relationships God has placed in your life.

Usually we are guilty of viewing the past through some kind of lens.  We look at it either through the eyes of idealism, remembering the good things and thinking about how rosy it was "back then," or we look at the past remembering the pain and bitterness of old difficulties.  Rarely do we have an accurate perspective on our own past.

So it's important to pull in other perspectives.  This morning I sat up in my Recliner of Meeting for an hour or so before my wife was awake, reflecting back on our time in western North Dakota.  I realized that while I remembered a lot of detail about my work, the two churches I served, and a few other odds and ends, I remembered relatively little about our family life during that time.  So when Julie got up, we reminisced together for a while.  She had a whole different set of details about our time there, and those details complemented my memories in significant ways.

I believe this is one of many reasons God created families.  It's always interesting at weddings or funerals (two places where I have a front row seat to watch how families interact) to see siblings remember their shared past.  Those shared memories, used properly, can become a platform from which we are able to move into the future in new ways.

The trick for many of us is to be intentional about this process.  We're good at being vexed -- even anxious -- about the future.  We need to cultivate the skill of talking with those who share bits of our past, who can help us assess what God was doing back then, so that we might begin to understand a bit of what God wants to do next.

No comments:

Post a Comment