Occasionally I like to glance back over things I have written. I need the reminder of what God has taught me in the past. Sometimes I am encouraged when I see what work He has done in me. Other times I feel the frustration, realizing I did not actually learn the lesson. Instead I wrote out a nice little blog post and then promptly forgot what I had been taught.
Sometimes when I go back to those old blog posts, I find something I want to repost, partly because I need to be reminded and partly because it seems appropriate at the time. In all honesty, other times it is because I lack the time to write a new blog post and want to make sure I get something uploaded to the blog.
The danger in any of that comes when I rely on the old for my learning. This thought occurred to me last week as I read some words written by a friend of mine. She wrote of two plants exposed to the exact same conditions with the exception of one factor. One plant thrived in fresh soil. The other grew steadily in old soil. Both grew, but one flourished while the other just lived.
I want to flourish. I cannot do that if I only rely on what God has taught me in the past. There must be something new. There must be something fresh.
Looking back over what we have learned in the past is essential. In fact, looking back comprises a good portion of Scripture! Over and over and over again we see Bible characters and authors retelling a very familiar story. Numerous short versions of the overarching story told in the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) exist throughout Scripture. The unfaithfulness of the Israelites pops up on a regular basis. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection find repetition throughout the New Testament letters. Paul retells his testimony regularly as he faces mobs in Acts and in his letters. The Bible provides a plethora of examples of the value found in looking back.
The value does not lie in the idea of reliving old glory, however. We cannot simply dwell where we have been. Looking back is not intended to pull us back. Instead, looking back should propel us forward. As I meander through old blog posts, I should be convicted over the lessons I have neglected to learn. I should be encouraged by what I have learned. Above all, I should be compelled to continue growing, steadily and solidly.
Where we have been is critical. The old grew us and continues to shape us. But we cannot live there. I encourage you today to be faithful to look back, but be even more faithful to move forward.