Should We Look Back?

Should We Look Back?

This coming Sunday, I am heading back to the church I grew up in for Homecoming Sunday.

They say it can be bad to look back, because we often don’t want to move forward the way we should. We can camp out in the good ol’ days and say things like: We did fine doing things this way in the past, why change? We’ve always done it that way.

We “church people” can be the worst ones to do this. But really if we study the good ol’ days, we had bad ol’ days too. Plenty of them! We just choose to remember the good stuff. And we can get set in our ways – I’m from the South; we use that saying quite often.

However, some good can come from looking back. The Psalmist did this quite often.

“Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot; there let us rejoice in Him! He rules by His might forever.” Psalm 66:5-7 NASB

The Psalmist took a moment to look back to encourage his faith. When we do the same, God’s faithfulness is evident in hindsight. And if He has been faithful in the past, He will be faithful now and in the future.

In light of this reminiscing spirit, let me share some memories from my home church.

This is the church I literally attended before I emerged from the womb. I had the privilege of being cared for in our little nursery by Mamaw Rutledge. She was the first one to shriek and discover that I was flexible and could do a split. (Love that story) Sweet Mamaw Rutledge rocked many of us, but she has gone on to glory.

This is the church in which I attended Sunday school, Training Union, and Girls in Action. And I can’t forget Vacation Bible School. I learned the books of the Bible and memorized scripture – got gold stars on the chart for every one.

When I was eleven, I decided it was time to make a personal decision for Christ. One night on the ride home from revival service with my mama, I told her I wanted to be saved. I went forward the next night and was baptized soon after. (Note: We didn’t have little sissy revivals back then. We held them for a week and maybe two.)

As a youth I was in a Christian clown troupe and in the youth choir. We traveled to South Dakota on a mission trip and sang on the stage at Mount Rushmore – my fifteen minutes of fame.

When I think back on the godly influence I gained from that church, I can’t help but get a little misty-eyed. I think like Paul when he wrote to a church and said, “I thank God upon my every remembrance of you.”

My husband will be preaching at the Homecoming and my daughter and I will be singing. We plan to sing some of the hymns I learned growing up there in that church. Wherever I am, when I sing these hymns, I have those fond memories. However, I want to encourage the people still at that church to look ahead. And if I know my husband at all, I know he will challenge them to use the past as a springboard into the future. Those who are there in the church now are there for a purpose or God would have called them home. They still have the purpose of sharing Christ and bringing glory to God, whatever that looks like now.

I am wondering if I will be required to sit on the right side of the middle section on row number two. My mama sang in the choir. She always told me, “When I come into that choir loft, you should be sitting in that spot, so I can see you.” Boy, did I get some Mama glares when my friends and I would disrupt! The rides home after those incidents are some memories I’d rather leave alone and not revisit.

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Paula Mowery About Paula Mowery

Paula is a pastor’s wife, mom to a college student, author, acquiring editor, and speaker. No matter the hat she wears, she strives to honor God’s plan even if it means going out on a limb and leaving comfort zones. Reviewers have characterized her writing as “thundering with emotion.” Her book, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award in the novella category. You can follow Paula on Facebook and learn more about her at her blog.

Comments

  1. Such a beautiful rendition of happy memories. I, too, grew up in a small church and remember those Sunday School classes, VBS, and of course, getting saved and baptized!

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  2. Thanks Barbara. Those memories really do just get sweeter as the days go by.

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  3. Janet K Brown says:

    I think looking toward the past can inspire us. We see how far we’ve come. But, if we dwell too much on the past, we lose sight of Now. Good post, Paula.

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  4. Thanks Janet. Yep, the Psalmist looked back and then proclaimed that God had brought them through in the past and would do it again. My hubby brought a message today at the homecoming service about living today for God and trusting Him for the future, not making the past into a hammock to rest in but a springboard to launch into now. Just like you said, the past should inspire and encourage us.

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