Look to your future. . . not your past – Parson to Person column
Don Locker, Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Glendale, California, tells a delightful story about a vivacious older woman in his congregation. When she reached her mid-eighties, she decided to enter a retirement home. She had a number of close friends who already lived there, and they decided to give her a welcome party. They planned a beautiful banquet and seated her at the place of honor at the head table.
Immediately, she noticed that seated next to her was an older gentleman, quite dignified, well-dressed, and strikingly handsome, also in his eighties. He had lived in the retirement home for some time. When she sat down beside him, she stared and stared at him until it became obvious and embarrassing.
Finally, she said to him, “Please forgive me for staring at you like this, but I can’t help it. You see, you look exactly like my third husband!”
That’s what the Apostle Paul said to the people of Philippi: “…this is what I do…forgetting what lies behind…I strain forward to what lies ahead…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Jesus Christ.”
He knows where he’s been…and he knows where he now must go. Christ has a hold on his life and Paul gives us a great picture of what that looks like! For most all his life, he has adhered to the Law of Moses as the Way to live and embraced “additional rules for faith and life” decreed by those who taught that being GOOD is the way to God. Paul remembers how he stood up for those ideals and laughed at those who said, “There’s more, and it’s found in a person, Jesus Christ.” Paul laughed…until he met Jesus…in the light…and Jesus got a hold on him.
From that day he never looked back. He surrendered all he believed for MORE. The MORE is Jesus Christ who enables every person to PRESS ON in deepening a relationship with God.
Are you pressing on to deepening your relationship with the Lord? How many times a week are you reading the Bible? There is truth to be discovered in its reading. Also, we can discover that we can view the world around us through the “eyes of Scripture.” It’s good to let the Words of God be written on your hearts. There are times they will serve us well because a Bible is not nearby. The Bible can whisper to us, “Forgive”…“Don’t judge”…“Love”…“Trust God.”
Praying? It’s good to ask God for things. I don’t advise that we ask for more money or bigger careers and such. I do think asking for comfort, perspective, strength, energy, conviction, and help are all important things to seek from God. Employ listening at the end of praying. God does speak to God’s people. There are things to be said, and if we listen, God will speak to our hearts and minds.
Giving? I want to thank you for the many ways you continue your support of the church. Meeting obligations is something we hope to continue doing.
Serving? Helping a neighbor can be good, or making telephone calls to check up on folks. Picking specific people for whom you can pray each day is good.
The virus says, “Stand down.” God continues to say, “Press on.” Which voice will you trust? While life is different these days and adjustments have been made, we continue to have a mission to fulfill. When those who saw that the Lord had died great angst gripped their souls. They wondered how they would go on. “Then came the morning! Night turned into day. The stone was rolled away. Hope rose with the dawn.”
It’s pretty dark out there in some portions of this world. But morning will come . . . for all of us.