It’s funny how I remember some things.
The other day I was reflecting on the account of creation in Genesis. I love contemplating on that beautiful account of God and the world we live in. I was thinking of lessons to learn from the account, like things starting in a mess but ending up very good indeed. Implicit in that was God in control orchestrating order out of chaos, light in darkness, fruitfulness and fertility from the muddle and mess. While He could look back at stages at that which was good, He would move on to the next stage towards completing something very good.
The day after that, though, I got to reflecting on the journey of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. I considered soberly how the great Creator of the Universe proved Himself again to be in control of all things even against the greatest earthly political and military power of the day. Yet in spite of the mighty works He displayed on behalf of His people, they still actively rebelled against Him. Rather than looking to Him, they preferred to look back and idealised what had been abject, oppressive existence under the foot of Pharaoh. It’s a sad state of affairs when you prefer the prison that kept you bound than the promise of the rest and liberty found in the truly greatest force of love, mercy and grace in the entirety of creation. So rather than enter the rest, only two people survived the journey from the land of slavery to the land flowing with milk and honey.
Later still, my beloved wife and I were conversing over our lives. It’s good to look back and see where we’re coming from noting God’s immense mercy, awesome grace and transformative love. As we talked, we thought about if there was a year we would want to go back to because it was such a great year. Considering carefully some really beautiful memories and superb experiences, we reached the conclusion that actually there wasn’t such a year. In as much as they had their notable moments and there were some truly outstanding years, as it happened, there was a sense that looking back is only as good as it helps us to move forward.
I don’t believe in a progressive approach to human history. I don’t think we are qualitatively ‘better’ creatures now than we ever have been and on a continual upward curve as a species getting better and better with each passing generation. Having said that, I also don’t totally buy into the thought that this is the worst generation of the species to ever set foot on the planet. My hope in Jesus leads me to believe that those who live in Him and allow Him to live and rule in them are ever growing and maturing through every situation, good or bad. They are becoming more Christlike and that is progress that impacts on a variety of levels. At the same time their growth is taking place in a cultural context praising economic economic and technological advances with little to show for real growth and maturity in the way of wisdom, compassion, justice and righteousness. This is not new. This is ever the way of humanity.
The key to it all is in learning from what we see looking back and look on to Jesus moving forward. I believe for those who choose to follow Jesus, there are brighter days ahead. Those brighter days may not live down to your definition and understanding. They can be so much more deeper and richer than that. This can lead to the joy of knowing whatever great years you have experienced, it is not to limit God to way back when. It’s to set our minds on Him, set our desires for Him and look to Him, wait on Him, trust Him and see how He leads us to those brighter days.
Creation, the Exodus, the settling in the Promised Land, the ever changing loyalties of God’s people made me weep bitterly for our human condition in the light of such a great God. To see the culmination of all this in the life, earthly ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His commission to the church gives me another dose of thanking God for what was and following Him into what will be.
This links in beautifully with what I was mentioning recently about the project and so ….
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden