Thinking About The Past, Looking To The Future

November 30, 2013
by Joel Jongkind

One morning, our devotional was from Deuteronomy 32, the passage where Moses was talking to the people about some of the things which had happened to them in their past, and the following verse spoke to my heart:

Deuteronomy 32:7 – Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you. (NKJV)

A while ago, I read a statement which more or less said the following: "When you keep thinking about the past and don't plan for the future, your life is over." I wondered about that statement because I do think about the past a lot. I remember and recall things of interest — to me at least — from many decades ago: the work I did, the business trips I took, the places we lived, the people we met, and things we did as a family. And I talk and write about those events a lot. Some people are interested, and others are not.

Some years ago, I had the privilege of writing the history of Presbyterianism in Meaford, Ontario, Canada, from 1854 to 2004, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary. It took a lot of research to compile 150 years of church activity in this area, an area which in the 1850s was sparsely populated and where the weekly gatherings of Christians were such an important part of life. And going through some of the old records and articles which were still available, I learned about the struggles they had, the people meeting in a barn and a smith's shop for worship, and the preachers travelling from many miles away on horseback or in buggies.

But through it all, they kept the faith, and at the 50th anniversary in 1904 the following proclamation was made, loosely taken from Psalm 16:6 – "The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places; yes, we have a good inheritance." And it has been hard work and perseverance which has kept the early Christians going during times of extreme hardships in many cases. They remembered the past and looked forward to the future.

Moses reminded the people about all the things which had happened to them. He talked about the past, but he also pointed them towards the Promised Land which they were soon to enter.

Matthew starts his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus. He, too, referred to the past and the people who were so important at that time, and throughout his writings, he tells us about all the things which had happened so many years before. Then he points us to the future with words spoken by Jesus Himself:

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (NKJV)

Many people heard those words and listened to them, and they did indeed bring the gospel to many nations. Yes indeed, we do have a good inheritance. Thanks be to God for the gift of memory and how it keeps loved ones and past experiences just a thought away. Whose memory will we become an important part of? To whom will we be instrumental in bringing the good news of Jesus?

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for our ancestors who kept the faith, in many cases under difficult conditions. We pray, Lord, that we, too, may be able to keep on bringing the good news to people in the days and years to come. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.

About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good word Joel.


    Joel: Thank you for your words. Blessings.


    Thanks, Joel. That must have been quite a task!


    Every anniversary service should contain your information.


    Hi Joel, always enjoy and inspired by your devotionals. Thanks.


    Thank you Joel. Our knowledge and memories of the past can teach for the future and sustain us in the present.


    Thank you Joel for your devotional. May God continue to bless you as you keep the Faith and keep sharing it with others so faithfully.


    Thanks, Joel. I enjoyed your devotional very much. Yes, it is good to remember the past and use it as a guide for the future, right? (Well, sometimes, as a warning for the future!)
    Thanks – and may God bless you and yours.


    Yes, Joel, There is so much in both the Old Testament and the New about both the firm foundation and the future Hope.
    Thank you for reminding us of God’s constant concern, care, and provision for us in Jesus Christ our Savior.
    Keep writing.


    Good Saturday afternoon,
    I find every one of your devotionals helpful and thoughtful and well written.
    I have forwarded this one on to my good friend. Her son and his wife were faithful hard working previous members of the church and might find your work of interest to them.
    Thank you for the devotional writing today.


    Thanks, Joel, for an interesting devotional. Our small church in a small town in Central Texas has also celebrated 150 years. Included in the history is how the members picked cotton to help pay the pastor’s salary. Those were obviously hard days, but I wonder if today isn’t a harder situation in which to bring people to the Lord. He will prevail and we know that.
    (Texas)


    Joel: thanks for your devotional on churches working through the years. I have just completed a project mapping all the 100+ churches in our Synod. The project literally brought me to many small congregations off the beaten track. I would often have to look for info beyond what I could gather from PCC sources, which led me to histories documenting years of faithful service. The project has been truly encouraging. And Google maps’ street view has in most cases brought me to the front door of over 95% of the churches in the Synod. So I can relate to your story.
    Blessings!


    Thank you Joel for sharing your inspiring thoughts with us. We take so much for granted with everything we have from technology to our busy lives. If we can hold onto keeping the faith this will carry us forward from the past and into the future.
    Blessings.

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