Thinking Back

The older I get the harder it is for me to remember stuff in general, so when another retiree asked this question of our group, I had to take a minute to go that far back. Here’s the question:

Do you remember how you felt right before you left for the field?

Since I had this experience twice, first as a single young woman heading out for a two-year assignment and then as a married woman going to a completely different area as a career missionary, it was different for each. I was thankful for the question, though, because it had been a long time since I pressed into that memory and those emotions. I realized it’s good to think back from time to time for several reasons.

It’s biblical.

Jesus was very critical of the believers in Ephesus for not remembering:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Revelation 2:4-5 NIV

Their love for Christ, which they had in the early days of their faith had been forsaken. They had sinned by turning from that first call on their lives.

We all change with time, and when the stress of overseas living and church planting weigh heavy on us, we often forget why we answered the call in the first place. We sin by looking for answers in ourselves and not leaning on the one who called us and empowered us for service.

It restores our faith.

Chapters eight and nine of Deuteronomy are full of the word remember. We must remember to keep God in his rightful place and not fall into the temptation that anything we accomplish is by our own power.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18

We remember that we were nervous and unsure of ourselves before we left for the field. Because we were humbled, we had to rely on God. As the years go by, we grow more self-assured and less God-assured. Remembering restores humility and faith.

It provides an avenue to thanksgiving and praise.

When we hesitate to look back, we have a hard time seeing how far we’ve come. We live so in the present, we limit our opportunity to thank God for all he’s brought us through, all he’s taught us since day one, and all he’s protected us from. We’re able to praise him for his faithfulness and steadfast love.

I am not the girl I was when I first surrendered to missions or first left for the field. I think about how little I knew and how much I have yet to learn. As I reflect on those days, it’s a wonder I survived at all! But for the grace of God!

It adds a new item for prayer.

When I think back to how I felt before leaving for the field, I’m reminded of the excitement and enthusiasm I had in going toward the unknown for the cause of Christ. While I’m more in the “known” world now, I do long to have that renewed excitement to face whatever challenges the day may bring.

This can be an opportunity to pray for spiritual renewal in your own life. In restoring your first love for Christ, ask the Lord to restore an expectant heart for his work in and through you. When we live in anticipation of what He will do, then we are no longer disappointed at what we don’t accomplish.

It’s good to look back as we press forward to the glory of God.

Grace and Peace

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