“A Christian always looks forward, not back. Our entire existence here on earth is a journey towards Christ.”
Are we constantly looking forward to the future or backward to the past?
A Woman Taken in Adultery
The Holy Gospel According to Saint John gives us an account of a woman taken in adultery.
Now the scribes and Pharisees brought forward a woman caught in adultery, and they stood her in front of them. And they said to him: “Teacher, this woman was just now caught in adultery. And in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a one. Therefore, what do you say?” But they were saying this to test him, so that they might be able to accuse him. Then Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the earth. And then, when they persevered in questioning him, he stood upright and said to them, “Let whoever is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” And bending down again, he wrote on the earth. But upon hearing this, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest. And Jesus alone remained, with the woman standing in front of him. Then Jesus, raising himself up, said to her: “Woman, where are those who accused you? Has no one condemned you?” And she said, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus said: “Neither will I condemn you. Go, and now do not choose to sin anymore.”John 8:3-11
When the woman taken in adultery is brought before Jesus, He first shows us that we are all culpable. We are all delivered to disobedience, that God might have mercy on us all. (Romans 11:32) When all her accusers have left, Jesus voices words of forgiveness. No one can condemn another in the presence of God. Jesus suffers for us all in order to obtain God’s mercy and forgiveness for all.
Our salvation is accomplished in the Passion of Christ. This act of God is the destination of our journey for it is here that God creates something new.
Dwelling in the Past
The past is irrelevant; God has offered us a future of eternal blessedness.
There is a line from an old sea chantey, a working song from the age of sail. It reflects a Christian towards our life's journey.
“Eight little sailors went up to heaven, one looked back and now there’s seven.”
A Christian always looks forward, not back. Our entire existence here on earth is a journey towards Christ. It is pointless to look back, dwelling on past sins can only bring us harm, past sins are forgiven if we repent and seek forgiveness.
God did not want the people of Israel to look back, constantly dwelling on a period of exile. He urged them to look forward to a new covenant.
"Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus."Phillipians 3:13-14
Paul tells us to forget what lies behind and strain forwards to what lies ahead. We are oriented to the future, to the promise of salvation.
“No one who puts his hand to the plow, and then looks back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
Using Our Gifts
Those struggling with finding a way to use their gifts in the way that God meant for them to be used, are told many lies by the world around them. Artists are particularly susceptible to these lies because they prey on the ego, the sense of self worth; "you aren't good enough," "artists are a dime a dozen," "you'll never make it," etc.. "Making it" of course refers to the idea that in order for an artist to be successful he has to make a living from his art. This is yet another lie and the danger comes from believing those lies.
We are all children of God. God has given us gifts to accomplish a purpose. If we feel our God-given talent is not up to the task then it is our part to refine and improve that talent.
Artists may be a "dime a dozen," but no one has the the unique combination of gifts that you have. There is something you can do in a way that no one else can do in the same way. There is someone in the world that can only be reached by your gifts.
And as for "making it," an artist is successful when he he fulfills the vocation that God has given him. The vocation that God sees as important is not always the one with a big paycheck.
God is patient with us. He gives us time. He gives us time to explore our gifts and perhaps even misuse them. But always God is there calling us to discover the proper use of those gifts, to put the past behind us and move forward in our proper work. Whatever your situation is now, whatever mistakes you have made in the past, they are in the past, resolve to put them behind you and go forward, finding the role God has put you here to fulfill.
In the year 2012 a remake of the 1990 film "Total Recall" was released. Although it strayed even further from its literary source material, (We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K, Dick) it still touched on themes of what is real and what is imagined. At a pivotal point in the movie a character says this:
"It is each man's quest to find out who he truly is, but the answer to that lies in the present, not in the past.....The past is a construct of the mind. It blinds us. It fools us into believing it. But the heart wants to live in the present. Look there. You'll find your answer."
this article originally appeared at www.DeaconLawrence.org
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org