First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Shaping the future.

November 17, 2016

 There are days when I remember back to my Applied Psychology Stats class and shudder.... 

    All those formulas and standard deviation thingies were cause for a few sleepless nights. 

The probability of me passing the course was determined by a Bell curve that looked like the point on a straight pin. Allowing room for inference and wrestling with a null hypothesis seemed to be an experiment in self taught brain surgery. Thankfully, by the grace of God and an incredibly helpful professor, I was able to enjoy a correlation between hard work and a passing grade.

    There were more than a few courses in undergrad and seminary that ran me through a Maytag wringer washer. In each case, there was a family member, parishioner, a professor or classmate to help lighten the day and offer encouragement. It makes me feel so thankful to have walked that path of learning and testing. Factoring in all the other demands on me during those 11 years only makes this walk down memory lane all the sweeter. Pastoring churches, striving to be husband, father, and student should have extinguished me to nothing. Apart from the love and grace of God and power of the Holy Spirit, I would have ceased to exist. 

    Have you ever stopped life long enough to journey back in time? Have you pondered the harrowing events of your past and seen evidence of an unseen presence in each place? Is it possible to have our present and future life shaped by the thanksgiving we offer to God regarding our past? I think so. The psalmist, David, thought so as well.

David often took trips down memory lane and recognized God's abiding presence.  He made sure to thank God and acknowledge the blessings he received.  When David reviewed the past, it always gave him hope for the future. Admittedly, David had a checkered past. He was a:

youngest son.

shepherd boy.

victor over Goliath

chosen king.

(an) adulterer.

conspirator in murder.

broken father who lost a son to death.

troubled king.

man after God's heart (always).

    David understood his future and present life were always inextricably laced into the past. He purposely made sure to acknowledge God's magnificent work in the past trials and tribulations. He celebrated God's goodness in all things. David was shaping and training his own heart to always look for hope in the face of possible defeat. David trusted God's goodness and believed the good God of the past would continue to be good into the future.

    How about you, do you journey backward and acknowledge God's abiding presence during your dark times of struggle? Do you give thanks to God on a daily basis? Are you training and shaping your heart to trust and believe God will show up in your future to bless you in amazing ways? I sure hope so.

How we recognize God and offer thanksgiving is a huge part of our faith development. It is how we can continue to live in hope amidst frightening times of unrest. It is how we grow as effective disciples of Jesus and disciple makers for Jesus.

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