There Is Only Forward
The other day while I was writing and listening to music and heard a snippet of a song by artists Jaymes Young that went like this:
So wake me up when they build that time machine
I want to go back...
That line stayed in my head most of the day, and I started thinking about why it resonated so much with me, apart from the obvious reasons... namely, the dumpster fire of a year that we've been experiencing.
The words from the song come to me again and again. "I want to go back... I want to go back..." And then I thought, "God, how I just want to feel this for a while... to imagine that it is possible, to think about what I would do if given the chance..."
But there is no going back.
You see, the past isn't really a true thing for any of us. It's a construct that we've created from selective memory, imagination, and even fantasy. Sure, there are historical moments, but even those are subject to interpretation, even for those who witnessed them.
There really is no going back because whatever we think we'd be going back to wouldn't be as we remembered it anyway.
I got to thinking about this in relation to something I often say to my church members, and readers. For years I have used this phrase over and over again: "Stumbling after Jesus." I'm beginning to see more clearly why this phrase has meant so much to me for so long.
I've often explained that this phrase speaks to the fact that I often don't know the way forward as I do my best to follow where Jesus is leading, and I will most definitely stumble as I go.
But there's something else I'm learning about that phrase that has been informed by this new world that is emerging all around us... There is only forward. Recently, author Rob Bell wrote this bit of amazingness along those very lines.
Organizations can keep trying to relive their glory days, wishing things were like they were when they started. Nations can get stuck, trying to go back in time, to an imagined era when things were great. People can get overwhelmed by nostalgia, wishing things would go back to how they were. But the universe only knows one direction. Forward. Spirit only knows one kind of creation. New creation.
The arc of the story in the Bible is of a God who is definitely present with us in the naked now, but who is also consistently calling us forward into the future to where God is already at work, already preparing a space for us.
God is not stuck in the past.
And neither are we.
There are new things ahead of us, and the reason why I know this is because making new things (or old things new) is quite simply what God does---just as Rob Bell asserted.
The rhythm of the universe is all about dying and rising---rising stronger, rising forward, rising into tomorrow. You and I have an opportunity to fall into this rhythm when we stop stubbornly clinging to the past, and surrender ourselves to the universe's rhythm.
And here's something to blow your mind... We can be present in the naked now and still be moving forward because we are always moving forward even when we are being fully present... in the present.
So let's get stumbling. There's no going back, and no matter how tempting it might be to get lost in our memories... there is only forward.
What comes next is nothing to be afraid of because God is already there then, and also fully here now so we won't have to walk alone into the future.
May this give you a sense of defiant hope in spite of the challenges all around you. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.