The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jim Neal
First Southern Baptist Church, Shafter 

Pastor's Corner - June 20, 2019

Put away that horsewhip and come home

 


“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must Be lived forward.”--Kierkegaard

Is that statement right on target or what? I read that quote in a book I am reading, and it hit me squarely between the eyes! I suppose said another way is more familiar to most of us and that is “hindsight is always 20/20.” I was watching a TV show several years ago and a line on the show went something like this “our scars can tell us where we have been, but they should not dictate where we are going!”

I don’t know if it is the approach of another birthday, the loss of a loved one or just the world situation, but I have found myself in a very introspective mood of late. For some unknown reason I find myself taking inventory of just about everything in my life, and then I read the thought of the week and began to feel better about it all.

I believe in many ways looking back can be therapeutic as long as we leave the “horsewhip” in the shed and do not take it out and beat ourselves up with it. It ceases to be therapeutic and may become barbaric and caustic if we “set up camp” in the past and wail over missed opportunities and failures. A glance backwards is an excellent momentary exercise for one to take stock of a situation and to learn what worked and what didn’t; however, it is not a place in which to sit and “wallow.” I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said, “The years teach much which the days never knew.”

Most if not all of us have read, heard sermonized or at least heard the story of the Prodigal Son in the Scriptures (if not, read it in Luke 15:11-32), and realize that if anyone he, the prodigal, could have beat himself up over the past. He had selfishly demanded his inheritance, taken it and spent it on frivolous and riotous living, eventually ending up dead broke, living and eating with the hogs. Not a good place for a Jewish lad, eh?

It was at that low point that the prodigal learned a key lesson, and one all of us need every now and then. He learned that as long as he had a loving and forgiving father and as long as his heart remained pliable and repentant, there was hope for the future. He stood up, cleaned up, looked up and headed home. He went home willing to be a servant but was welcomed back as a son.

How many times have we needed to remember 1 John 1:9: “If (when) we confess our sins, He (the Father) is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Get that, cleanse us! What a God, what a Father.

I suppose the moral of today’s article is to know that we have a loving Father who awaits our return to the family at any time. And because of that truth well, life just ain’t as bad as it sometimes seems.

Keep chargin’ and have a great week

Jim Neal is pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.

 

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