Something triggered my thoughts the other day and I began to recall a time when my family and I had gone to spend the weekend with an army buddy of my Dad’s. I am not sure of the year of the event, but I do remember that I was in elementary school. Dad’s friend owned a large peach and almond ranch in the central valley of California. He and his wife had stood up for me at my Catholic Christening as a baby and were considered my Godparents. Their lifestyle was completely different to ours in suburbia. That weekend back in the early sixties was filled with all kinds of new adventures. We awoke early on Saturday morning to the sound of a bi-plane diving over the house as the pilot was attempting to impress Dad’s friend’s teenage daughter.
Later on we bounded up and down in a new Chevy El Camino car/pickup through the dusty orchards, played pool in their recreation room, romped around the trees with their German Shepherd ranch dog and then feasted on a delicious Italian dinner in their large ranch house dining room. Needless to say, to us city folks, the time spend there was like a moment in Neverland!
Monday morning as I got up to get ready for school was a different story though! I can remember pouting while sitting on the bed with tears in my eyes because I wanted to go back to all the fun and adventure we had experienced over the weekend, and not proceed forward with the boring school week ahead! Have you ever had a time when you desperately wanted to go back in your past?
I saw a couple of guys in the scripture today who were wanting to do just that. In Luke chapter twenty four we see the two disciples of Jesus returning home. I can just imagine them walking along that dusty path with their shoulders stooped over and their faces downcast as the fourteenth verse declares that they were “talking to each other about everything that had happened.” (God’s Word ©) I would think that they were probably in a daze as the events surrounding Jesus’ sudden arrest, trial, whipping and hanging on the cross had happened so quickly. Things definitely didn’t end up as they thought it would! I am sure that they also reminisced about all the “good times” they had witnessed and been a part of as they followed the Master and longed to see them again.
Then they came across a stranger who seems to be oblivious to the past events and begins to unfold the prophetic scriptures to them. The two men later commented that as the stranger spoke “it felt like a fire burning in us.” (Luke 24:32 Easy to Read Version) By the time the stranger, whom they came to realize was Jesus Himself left, these men were excited, empowered, expectant and ready to move on into a triumphant future!
It would seem that God’s way is to propel us ahead and not to drag us back into the past, as I wanted to do on that dreary day back in my childhood! This morning as I read through Luke 24 once more, I took a moment to connect the dots between my childhood memory, the events of the men on the road to Emmaus and to my own recent set of experiences. I realized that those who did not back our initial steps of faith in fighting the battle of my wife’s health attempted to immediately remind us of what they considered to be the failures of our past. One group brought up some rough financial straits we had been through and another made the unfounded accusation that “if we were really serious about Piper’s healing,” that we would have done some things differently while we were in Oklahoma.
In some respects the medical professionals did the same thing. Their first step in planning a course of action was to ask about the patient’s past to see if they could connect potential deficits in Piper’s life to the cause of the current need. (It is interesting that Piper does NOT fit the description of one who is a good candidate for Dementia,which adds fire to my understanding that the enemy of our souls is the culprit behind this attack!) It dawned on me that these individuals’ first steps for us were to go backwards instead of encouraging us to the potential prospects of a bright future ahead. I am glad to say that only a few of these folks are still there as they continually bring up what we should have done, while most others have now joined us in our present and future expectations of success!
What I have learned is that Jesus doesn’t look at our past and judge or plan our future based on possible mistakes or failures. Like He did with the two men on the road to Emmaus, His plan is to pump us up with the encouraging life and light of His Word and with that as our basis, to boost us into a bright future! The two disciples stopped going backwards and immediately moved ahead after their hearts burned with expectation of what God had in store for their lives!
Isn’t that what you ultimately desire for your life… to move on into victory? To live a life that is not only satisfying to you but also a blessing to those you encounter along the way? I know the deeper I get into this life the more I want to be like the Master! I want to leave those I meet with a new sense of hope, encouragement and expectation for God’s best in their very existence. I want them to see me as a place of the living and not of the dead! (Remember Luke 24:5?)
So who will you be today? Will you be one that encourages another to move on in the victorious promises and provisions that Jesus suffered, died, rose again and is seated at the very right hand of Papa God for? I think I know the answer to that question! So have a great day. Stay encouraged in God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting to do today to lift someone up?”