There is a reason I started this post out with the video, I Go Back by Kenny Chesney. It is when I hear this song I go back. I go back to some of the same scenes he mentions in the song. For example, the lyrics, The smell of fried chicken after church remind me of my family driving from Monroe to Athens every Sunday after church. My grandmother would have fried chicken and all that goes with it ready for us to enjoy Sunday dinner and family time.
This song takes me down a long road of wonderful memories of people I have met over my lifetime. Each appointment my dad served as a Methodist minister holds their own special memories and footprints on my heart from dear people. There are also those dear friends from my Reinhardt College days (now Reinhardt University). Fortunately, with the development of social media I have been able to re-connect with many of these special friendships.
It is good to look back now and then. Looking back gives us a perspective on life, the blessings that have already been received, the lessons learned, and to help you to see how far we have come. It also gives us perspective on the future. We see where God has brought us and walked with us and it gives us assurance that God is still walking and is with us.
I open my bible, I look back at the Old Testament stories. These stories give a perspective of where our Christian heritage started. These passages are reminders those who have influenced our heritage as God’s child from thousands of years ago and they show us that God is still with us! As I scan through the stories in the Old Testament, I see how God was already showing his grace and preparing his people for the Son that was to come.
It is people in the Old Testament receiving redemption and grace that formed the family tree of Jesus. His tree is full of redeemed people. In Joshua, we learn about Rahab who was a prostitute. She lived on the wall of Jericho. Joshua sent spies into Jericho before invading and Rahab hid these spies. She not only hid the spies but she lied to authorities about them being in her home and Jericho. Rahab had faith that God would protect her and her family if she protected the Israelite spies.
To God Rahab’s profession did not matter to him. It was her faith that matter to him. As we read on, we see that she is a part of the family tree of the lineage of Christ. She was a person who had received God’s grace. We can read on and see that Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Boaz is known as the kinsmen redeemer for Naomi. He marries Ruth whom is a foreigner. Ruth and Boaz have a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse whom is the father of David. (Matthew 1).
Look back at David. He is known as the man after God’s own heart. Boy! Did he make some mistakes. If his life were put into a reality show, I am sure it would get top billing. He had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah murdered so that he could have Bathsheba for himself. He committed adultery with Bathsheba before he even had Uriah killed. He disobeyed God and turned a blind eye to the sins of his children. Yet, David is known as being the greatest king of Israel. Fast forward to Matthew 1 and whose name appears in the lineage of Christ, David. God used David in preparing the way for his Son to come to earth to let people know that no matter how much you mess up, God still loves you and he wants your heart. Again, if you read in between the lines you will see redemption and grace already taking place.
In the Old Testament, God was already showing to grace and redeeming people. He sent his Son to demonstrate that grace that is available to all of us. This morning as I thought about this my heart almost exploded with excitement just like it almost explodes from excitement from seeing an old friend. Going back to a special place and time.
It excited me to be reminded that even before Jesus arrived as a tiny infant in a manger on a cold starry night God’s grace was already at work. He just decided to send it down to us in the form of a baby who would grow up to be a man who demonstrated God’s grace. He demonstrated God’s grace by healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving the tax payer, the prostitute and the list goes on. Then, one day he would be put on the cross to die for my sins so that I would have a place in paradise.
What takes me back? When I hear the old hymn, In My Heart There Rings a Melody I can see Mr. Mac Beggs leading the songs in a small country church known as Redwine United Methodist. There are songs like Meet Me In The Morning, Jesus Is Coming Soon, and I’ll Fly Away that remind me of Campton United Methodist Church. I also remember it was in that church parking lot I learned to ride a bike.It is when I see an old country store no longer in business I think of Mr. Baker’s store that was up on the corner from our home. Mom would let me walk up to his store after school to get a coke before doing homework. It is when I hear Kenny Chesney’s song, I Go Back I think of camp meetings under an arbor and beginning high school in Bowdon, Georgia. The place where I stood at many crossroads of growing up.
When I open a coke or eat a fried pie I think of Ms. Sara who was our neighbor and always had place on the porch for you to sit and visit. It is getting on my bicycle that I think of dear childhood friends, like Beth and Robert Rowland, LuAnn and Jeff Marlow and how we would ride our bikes all over the place. Our parents didn’t worry about us back then. I can order catfish at Cracker Barrel and think of Daddy Bill and his many fish fries. It is seeing the arbor from Shiloh on Facebook that reminds of the place and time I accepted Christ into my life.
Every time I say the Lord’s Prayer I think of the Heritage High School Band .Our band director, Mr. Dent would huddle us together to say the Lord’s Prayer before we took the field to do our show. When I see a barbecue taking place for a fund-raiser, I think of Union Church and the barbeques they had each Fall and Spring. The people that would come and the fellowship that took place as the food was prepared and served.
When I see news from Reinhardt or a posting from a Reinhardt friend, I go back to those college days. I can hear certain anthems played and sung and memories of singing in the Reinhardt choir and our travels. I think of the professors who not only taught me topics but taught me things about life.
It is in my looking back I see where God was using every situation to mold me, to teach me, show me his grace and that he was and still is with me. Yes, there were mistakes made along the way but it is in those mistakes that I learned. I learned lessons that would help me to see life in a better light and to possibly help someone else along the way. All of the experiences I mentioned along with a lot of experiences I didn’t mention are all a part of God’s molding me, allowing me to experience his grace in ALL that I do. Not only does looking back remind me of where God has worked in my life but it helps me to look forward. God has more plans for me, more people to come into my life and more grace for me to experience and share.
Looking back. I walk through the scriptures. I reflect on my life. What do I see? Grace. And, I stand amazed.
Until next time, may you look back and see where God’s grace has been at work in your life. I imagine if you do, you will stand amazed.
- Photo Gallery: Reinhardt University vs. University of the Cumberlands (nickvsuss.wordpress.com)
- The Varsity and Me (atlantatravails.wordpress.com)