Whether it’s browsing through old online posts or thumbing through printed photo albums a look at our past can be a healthy excursion. It’s good to know our life’s story, to remember the experiences, and to recall the lessons we’ve learned.
Looking behind us is a popular family activity. As I progressed on writing The Giving Grandpa I reconnected via social media with cousins I’ve not seen for years. I swapped correspondence with people who knew Grandpa including a newspaper editor who shared the impact Homer Miller had on his life. As I browsed through Grandpa’s albums and read his notes from the small book he carried in his shirt pocket I felt like he was beside me again.
Maybe memories like those urge us to visit the past.
In 1984 I completed a college course, The Educational Task of The Church, taught by Richard Winters. Mr. Winters (later Dr. Winters) did not care what I knew. He wanted to know how I thought, and in that brief semester he challenged my preconceived positions on the workings of the local church. I invested hours investigating why we do what we do the way we do it.
Mr. Winters demanded that I support my views rather than dogmatically state them. He challenged me to read books with a pen in hand and interact with the text. I’ve left the annotation “hogwash!” in the margins of quite a few since that time (my own only, not borrowed books).
One assignment was to write a paper sharing my vision of the future church. What leadership structure would be used? How would meetings be conducted? Would technology change the methods of the church? I had fun with that paper. As an engineer with telecommunications experience I was certain the possibilities for employing technology in the mission of the church were limitless.
I review that work once in a while and chuckle at some of my outrageous ideas. Other aspects of the church I envisioned in 1984 have come to pass. You can read that untitled paper which I’m now calling First Generic Church and offer your comments.
Visiting the past is fun, but dwelling in the past is not healthy. We cannot stop change. We need a forward-facing future outlook in life. What dreams do we have? What plans and goals have we established to convert those dreams into reality? What new areas are we exploring? Any new lessons learned in the past 6 months? Are there new topics of interest we’re itching to investigate?
Paul penned this reminder for us,
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 ESV
Forget the past. Press on. Great advice.