After a few years of twice a day walks with my wife in her chair and the dog in tow, I think I finally got most of the bugs worked out. That is until the dog decides she wants to go in the opposite direction of the one we are currently headed in. It gets really tough (and a bit humorous) when we are headed uphill and Mandie spots a crafty little squirrel downhill from us. Especially when I’ve just gotten the momentum going to make the grade. The dog stops and suddenly begins to strain in the other direction which causes me to have my arm practically jerked out of its socket and when I dig in,I find myself standing there on the sidewalk in front of the whole world with my arms completely stretched out like a “T”!
I usually win the battle of the wills and the pooch dejectedly lets her tantalizer go on his merry way scampering up a tree. After that the three of us return to our peaceful walk around our neighborhood. Then there are other times when we may come across someone else walking ahead of us and Mandie will begin to strain at her lease so that she can go greet the walkers and get some attention. I have never seen such a people dog as our Black Australian Shepherd! Even if the other walkers have a dog our two with them, she’ll eventually ignore the pooches and seek a gratifying pat or word from their owner!
The Apostle Paul also knew what it meant to strain for something up ahead. In speaking about his Christian life he made the point in Philippians 3:13-14 saying: “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.” (English Standard Version) I can easily picture Paul leaning forward and expectantly straining toward the next town he was going to hold a meeting in... just like our dog pulling on her lease excitedly straining to get where she wants to go!
Another thing that caught my attention in those verses was the statement about not looking back. Over the last few years I have had time to think about the few years leading up to the diagnosis of the disease that has been attacking my wife. As I have looked back I can now see where there were many tell-tale signs of the beginnings of the changes within her body. Sometimes I want to kick myself for not having seen them back then. But there was so much going on in my life at the time that I just didn’t notice it… It seems that maybe I was too caught up in the events of my own life to ignore some of the things that were going on right under my nose!
Those two or three years before things really got noticeable were very turbulent times. During the dramatic economic downturn in the early 2000’s, I had the honor of being one of the 3000 county employees of Agilent Technologies to be laid off after a twenty year stay with the company. Then a couple of years later the professional photography store I had gotten a job at went out of business. When you combine that with the turmoil that was going on with our church with the Pastor of over twelve years suddenly leaving after two years of our quietly sensing that something was going on with him, you can see how I was otherwise occupied!
But still… we are talking about my wife. The most important person in the world to me! I really should have been more observant. Then again… looking back is always easy to do once you’ve gone through a situation and learned from it! In reality, there was nothing I really could have done to improve the situation with Piper. If I had known back then we probably would have not gone to Bible School in Oklahoma and gotten all the physical, spiritual and emotional support I have needed to get through this. Our two younger kids would not have turned things around and become the strong spiritual people that they are today and they would never had met the perfect matches that God had for them to marry!
So in the long run… what good does looking back do except for making you want to punish yourself for what you could of-maybe-possibly done differently if you had only known… Paul seems to be saying that the important thing is to keep looking and moving forward in your walk with the Lord! When I read that verse yesterday I very excitedly reported to my wife when I helped her up for the day that “We ain’t through with this life yet! Papa God’s got A LOT more for us to do and we are going to complete His call for us in a joyful, productive, healthy and whole manner!”
How about you today? Do you have things from the past that keep coming back to haunt you? Paul tells us to STOP looking back – forget them - and MOVE forward in and for Christ! It really is as simple as that! Don’t try and complicate things… just let go and let God take you on to the new and exciting places He is calling you to go and make a difference in!
Have a great week! Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whose CALL am I expecting to follow forward today?”