I received a newsletter from Alistair Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio who also has a radio program called “Truth for Life.” In his letter, he said he has “gratitude for the past and a great sense of expectation for all that God will do in us and through us this year.”
The thing I appreciate about this quote is that in it there is no disdain for the past. So often at this time of year, the past gets a really bad rap. Many people look back over 2010 and begrudge it as if nothing good happened and the only positive that remains in life is the future. Today, January 4, will be “the past” a year from now. Are we going to sweep today under the rug as so much dirt a year from now? Or will we sit back on January 4, 2012 and be grateful for January 4, 2011?
One of the best ways we can go forward is to respect the past, with all its lessons, victories, hardships and joys. And the way we get to the next part of Begg’s statement, the part about expectation, is to especially look at how prayer has been answered in past years.
The first time I ever experienced answered prayer I began to understand hope. Within hope is the expectation that God will work. When we focus on the way God has provided, heard our cries and rewarded our patient trust in Him, we gain the confidence that God will do all of that and more as we grow spiritually mature and in ever deepening relationship with Him.
Do we take time to really see and thank God for how He worked in our and other’s lives in the past? Do we allow ourselves the unabashed confidence that He is working even now, as we speak? Do we go to bed every night and wake up every morning with the anticipation of God with us?
I recently told my sister that, with Christ, every morning has that “Christmas morning” feeling. Every morning I get up and go downstairs, wondering what will transpire in the Christian life today. I fully expect to meet with God and to know that the time I spend with Him will be fruitful. I fully expect His word to work in my heart, convicting and encouraging me. I fully expect God to bear fruit in the world in which He placed me.
What a privilege it is to look back in gratitude, to anticipate the future with hope and to live in continual confident expectation of God.
“In the morning, O lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3