"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 22, 2017
I read a devotional by Christine Caine recently that had some interesting facts that I'd like to share. Christine evangelizes around the world. She was born and raised in Australia, where she still lives with her husband and daughters.
Christine wrote this: "The Australian Coat of Arms depicts a very insightful image. There are two animals portrayed holding up a shield -- the Red Kangaroo and the Emu. They were chosen not only because they are indigenous to Australia, but also because they were created to move forward. The Emu, a large, non-flying bird slightly smaller than its cousin the Ostrich, is known for its speed, covering as much as nine feet in a single step when running full throttle. It is the only bird with calf muscles, much like a human has; nonetheless, it can't walk backward. It can only move forward. The Red Kangaroo, like all kangaroos, moves with a hopping motion called saltation, which literally means 'to leap'. They push off with both of their large feet simultaneously and use their tails for balance. The combination of their muscular legs, big feet, and tails helps the kangaroos move forward effectively. But again, they can only move forward, not backward."
I love that image; being able to only move forward and never backward! I wonder how differently our lives would be, if we put that concept into practice? Never trying to go back, but always moving onward. Keeping our eyes and thoughts focused on what lies ahead at all times, never regretting what lies in the past. Literally and figuratively always moving forward!
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV) says, "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The Message version reads, "Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it? There it is! I'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands."
I like the clarity with which The Message writes this scripture. Don't keep going over old history! What's done is done... it's in the past... over and done with.... there is absolutely no going back to rewrite what happened; so forget about it. Put it out of our mind, because there are no do-overs. Learn from our mistakes, and move on, striving to do better from that point on. Once we repent of our past sins and mistakes and regrets, they are immediately forgiven by our Heavenly Father and under the blood of Jesus. From that moment on, as far as God is concerned, they are as far removed from our record as the east is from the west, never to be remembered anymore. If He forgives and forgets, then who keeps bringing those things to mind, trying to overwhelm us with guilt and condemnation? Satan! Don't be a pawn in Satan's hand; don't give him the satisfaction of giving in to his attempts to keep us chained to our past. Don't believe his lies that we can't break free from our past, and that those things define who we are in the future. That's contrary to what God says about us!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) tells us, "Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" The above verse in Isaiah tells us that God will do a new thing! Therefore, it has always been God's plan for us to continually be moving forward, focusing on what lies ahead and forgetting what lies behind. He has something new in store for us! Instead of us trying to forage a path through life all by ourselves, God makes a road for us to follow and provides rivers to refresh us. It's puzzling why we would want to keep looking back to hurtful, painful, embarrassing, difficult events in our past, rehashing them over and over again, allowing the shame and guilt to consume us time and time again; but we all seem to do that. It's somewhat like picking at a scab and not allowing a sore to heal.
A while back I was babysitting Owen, my 4-year old great-nephew. He had had a few accidents, banging his face up. He had scabs on his forehead and nose. Owen was sitting beside me on the couch, and kept scratching at the scabs. I told him to stop doing that! If he kept picking at his scabs, then those sores would never heal. A few minutes later, he turned his back towards me and I could see him raise his arm up and scratch his forehead. I once again told him to stop! He turned around and sounded puzzled. "Aunt Orella, how did you know I was doing that?!" It didn't matter that his back was turned, I'm taller than him and could see exactly what he was doing. Plus I knew his tendency was to keep picking at that sore.
That's kind of how we are with our Heavenly Father at times. "How did you know I keep 'picking' at the scab of my past? I had my back turned. I thought I was hiding the guilt and condemnation. I was just thinking about what had happened, not really doing anything bad." But God is all-knowing and all-seeing and nothing happens that He doesn't know about and see. He knows our every thought. Therefore, God always knows when we're hanging onto something from our past and not moving forward. He knows when we keep picking at it, keeping it sore and irritated, instead of allowing Him to bring healing and wholeness.
Philippians 3:14-15 (NLT) says, "No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing; forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
If someone is running a race, are they going to win if they run forward a while, then turn around and go back towards the starting line, then turn and run forward again, over and over again? All they are doing is basically running the same stretch of the race over and over again, wearing a rut into the path and getting nowhere. Every time they try and go back, they are going against the flow of where God is trying to take them, so they're going to end up getting trampled and pushed down and falling time and time again. It's not going to be a joyous journey, but wearisome and tiring! Why? Because they're not running forward and following the journey that God has ordained for them. When they run forward, they get the encouragement and help from all those running the race alongside them.
If we want to receive the heavenly prize which God is calling us to, then we have to obey this directive and forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead! Keep pressing forward.
Let's keep the imagery in mind of the Red Kangaroo and Emu and remember this example. Let's act as if moving (looking) backward is impossible, but can only go forward!! When we do, it will be very freeing. Let's live life as God designed us to live it!!
Of course, an owl can't fly backward. But it can turn its head all the way backward. It makes me wonder: if they can see around so easily, why do they keep asking, "Who?"
Like most predators, owls have eyes that look forward, so they can focus on their goals. With two eyes looking at the same mouse, they can estimate the distance to it well, especially as they get closer. Land predators, like a leopard can accurately judge the distance to their prey, and also whether they or their prey are running faster, and by how much.
On the other hand, grazing animals, like a deer, tend to have eyes further to the sides. They can look forward, just not quite as well. But with only a tiny turn of their heads, they can see behind themselves. Even at a full run, they can easily check behind themselves to see how soon they might be eaten.
Humans are designed with the same eyes of a predator. It's just more evidence that we were designed to focus on our goal, and not on what is chasing after us.
Black Forest Pie
1 chocolate graham cracker pie crust
1 package (4 serving size) chocolate instant pudding
3-1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
1 can cherry pie filling
1 cup cold milk
Spread 1 cup Cool Whip on the bottom of pie crust. Combine milk and pudding mix in medium bowl. Blend with whisk. Fold in 1-1/2 cups Cool Whip. Spread pudding mixture over the Cool Whip layer. Spread remaining Cool Whip over top, leaving a 1-inch border and forming a depression in center of the Cool Whip. Spoon cherry pie filling in the center. Chill at least 3 hours.
This past Sunday the teacher for one of the Sunday School classes for our kids was sick, so I filled in for them at the last moment. One of the boys read the story about God telling Abraham to pack up, leave his native country, and move to an unknown place; and God would tell him where it was when he arrived. (Genesis 12) After the story I was asking the kids how they would feel if God asked their family to move to an unknown place.... just pack up, get in the car and start driving until God told them to stop. Perhaps they would drive all the way to Alaska. One of the boys suggested Hawaii.... I said maybe, but they couldn't drive all the way there, they'd have to get on a plane. I mentioned perhaps God would tell them to stop in North Dakota where it was cold and flat. One of the girls said, "Oh, I couldn't live there! I don't have any clothes that would be warm enough!!" Hmm.... Her brother spoke up and said, "That wouldn't be as cold as living on the North Pole! Now that would be cold!!" I'm not sure they really got the message of the story that I was trying to point out! But it was a fun class.
When your past calls, don't answer. It has nothing new to say. - Toby Mac
We love you!
Loretta & Jon