–April 0f 2010
God is Forward Looking!
The Old Testament is a remarkable collection of history, biography, prophecy, poetry and precept all written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to teach us who God is and how God works. Many of its stories are so captivating that we might have to take a second look to appreciate the remarkable insights they offer about our heavenly Father. For example, we are given the fascinating narrative of Jonah and the whale, not so that we can be awed by a great fish or a miraculous deliverance, but to tell us in an unforgettable way that God is a God of the “second chance.” The book of Hosea is not just a scandalous story of a prophet’s wife turned prostitute but a story that gives us an in-depth look into the heart of God – the wounded lover – who longs to forgive his wayward people and restore them to Himself.
The Historical Books are filled with accounts of real life interaction between God and the people of Israel. Every account offers unique insight into who God is and how He works. In the opening chapters of I Samuel we learn that God had planned for Israel to be a theocracy led through Judges and Prophets. Israel, however, wanted a king so they could be like the nations around them. God let them have their way and their king, but Saul turned out to be such a disobedient disaster that God ultimately had to reject him and his reign. On the heels of this rejection we find Samuel reflecting on the past (I Samuel 16). He is paralyzed by grief over a failed kingship and perplexed over the future of Israel. God suddenly breaks into this moment of morbidity and thunders these words to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided myself a king among his sons.”
This jarring call to move on tells us something important about God. It tells us that He is forward looking. In other words, God doesn’t sit around feeling bad about the past. He said to Samuel, “Stop regretting yesterday and get ready for tomorrow. My plans are still in place. I already have a new man in the wings – a man after my own heart. We will follow the same plan but have a new man at the top. He is an unlikely candidate but he is my man – now get moving”
God is forward looking and this means that He is primarily interested in our present and future not our past. This is good news for those who live tied to the failures of yesterday. Far too many good people are paralyzed by regret thinking that they married the wrong spouse, choose the wrong career, bought the wrong house, made the wrong decision, missed a certain opportunity and the list goes on. They can’t break away from the choking noose of yesterday’s mistakes or perceived mistakes. But that is not how God works. The real issue to Him is not did you marry the wrong person but will you let him take the one you did marry and teach you how to love them for all the future that you have left to love them. The issue is not what you have done or what mistakes you have made but rather it is the willingness to let God take you from where you are now and lead you forward into the future He has planned for you. God is an expert in taking a vessel that has been marred and remaking it according to His plans and purposes (Jeremiah 18).
Others live in the past by choice. They consume the years of their life in trying to reconstruct the failed era of what was to them Saul’s reign. In so doing they miss the excitement of where God is going and what God is doing today. Sadly, they forfeit their future by draping themselves in the death shroud of what is gone and will never return.
God is forward looking and that means He has a strategically planned future. Men and movements that reflect this characteristic of God are very attractive. People are naturally drawn to leaders or organizations that know where they are going. Many years ago a young lady from a wealthy English family met a young scholar in London and fell in love. He was a poor man with no prominent ancestry. She asked her father’s permission to marry him. Her father protested that she didn’t even know his background or where he was from! To which she responded, “You are right, father. I don’t think he has much of a background, and I don’t know for sure where he comes from, but he knows where he is going and I want to go with him.” The young man was the commentator Matthew Henry.
The Apostle Paul lived out this characteristic and challenged all of us to “forget those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. Why don’t you lay down the past and embrace your future in Christ. Try the forward look!