Looking Back & Looking Ahead Carol McLeod Ministries | Find Joy in Your Journey

Carol McLeod

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I have always dealt with a conundrum of the soul …

Perhaps this battle of mine is more philosophical than theological … but honestly … I am not sure.

This Civil War that has waged conflict in the deepest part of me for decades has become too obnoxious to ignore and at this stage of life … I must somehow bring peace to the volatility.

Answers to the questions.

Truth to the deception.

Direction to the mire.

The paradox that has willfully taunted me for most of my adult life may not be the struggle that has bullied youbut we all have one, don’t we?

We all have a place of emotional debate that calls us repeatedly into a confusing maze of turmoil.

We all have one …some of us have more than one.

Mine is a simple one … yet it is profoundly complicated.

This is the crux of my conundrum … Should I look back or should I look ahead?

Should I look back with thanksgiving or gaze unflinchingly ahead with hope?

Should I look back and learn from my life’s lessons or should I naively believe that tomorrow is a brand new day?

Should I ponder my past and look for all the mistakes I have made on every day of every week of every month of every year … or should I look willfully ahead and ignore the pain of yesterday?

What should I do?

One of my heroes of the faith, Don Milam, a writer, publisher, missionary and rich thinker, wrote this on Instagram this week, “As I get older (75 right now), I notice I spend less time thinking about my future and a whole lot of time about my past – people I have known, things I have done, and places where I’ve been. I’ve had wonderful times but have also walked through dark times, but they made me who I am now.”

As I pondered Don’s heart and his call to great living … it brought the oil of gladness to my emotionally driven contention.

I realized that I don’t have to have one without the other … I don’t need to solely look ahead while refusing to look back.

I don’t need to simply forget but I can also choose to remember.

All the days of my past helped to create the woman I am today … and I can’t ignore my foundation or the heritage that has been only mine.

I must acknowledge the wealth of human experiences that fashioned my particular heart and bequeathed me with the wisdom that now guides me.

Even my mistakes … and failures … and shortcomings … have not left a desert of wasted years in my wake … but my personal stumbles have created the opportunity for God to intervene.

If I had lived a perfect life … of unmatched strength …or superhuman courage … my pathway might have appeared to be pure gold.

But … as Shakespeare purportedly said, “All that glitters is not gold.”

If we were to view anyone’s life as unblemished perfection … brilliant performance … or heroic accomplishment … it would only be fool’s gold in our rearview mirror.

One of the resounding reasons why I love looking back through the annals of my uncommon life is simply that it enables me to memorize the fingerprint of God.

I see Him … when I was disappointed with people.

I was privy to His faithfulness … when I experienced trauma.

I felt His love … when loneliness was my portion.

I waded through His mercy … when I was entrenched in compromise.

When life had bullied me … He tenderly cared for me.

When I was weak … He fortified me.

The joy of looking back is nearly too profound to express!

However … (and you knew that the “however” was coming, didn’t you?) … if all I did was to finger through the photo albums of my heart … would I ever be able to accomplish all that God has called me to do today?

And tomorrow?

As winsome as my childhood was … and as powerful as my young adult years were … I must not be caught in the quicksand of yesterday.

I must utilize my past to propel me into my future.

I must learn what history taught me so that I can prepare for the tests of today.

I must use former times as a springboard for all that is rich and rare and promising in serving Christ in all of my tomorrows … however many of those tomorrows there might be.

I once did a Bible Study on the two contradictory words, “forget” and “remember”.

What I learned by digging deeply into scripture and parsing the meaning of these two words who have eternally refused to get along with one another was this …

I need to forget my stuff and remember God’s presence.

I need to lay aside my past pain and embrace God’s faithfulness.

I need to remember who He has been … who He is … and who He will always be.

I need to remember what His Word declares and what His character ensures.

I need to forget my preferences and remember His truth.

The conundrum has been solved … I can live at peace with my thoughts about yesterday and with my hope for tomorrow.

It is not one or the other … it is both.

I can forget … and I can remember.

I can look back … and I can press ahead.

As I look back … I see Him clothed in faithfulness.

As I look ahead … I see Him cheering me on!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart, but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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