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Celebrating The Past, Looking Forward To The Future – by Dr. Eric Bryant

Written By: Dr. Eric Bryant, South Campus Pastor of Gateway Church, Austin, TX
Twitter: @ericbryant
Instagram: @ericbryant
Website: ericbryant.org

Celebrating The Past, Looking Forward To The Future

by Dr. Eric Bryant

Moving from Los Angeles to Austin was a big transition. We had lived on the West Coast for 17 years, but now we were returning to Texas where we grew up although we had never lived in Austin.

After unpacking all of our boxes, there was one box we never found. Of all the boxes to lose – this one really, really hurt. I never found my journals.

At the age of 15 I started writing down key moments of my life in these journals. I wrote down the the challenges I faced, the answers to prayer, and the miracles I experienced. With the exception of the journal from the year we married and moved from Dallas to Seattle, all of my journals from the age of 15 to 35 were gone. Twenty years of my life were lost! As someone who processes through writing and someone with a bad memory, I really struggled with this loss. I’ve lost my stories! I’ve lost a record of the last 20 years of my life!

I called the moving company and filed a formal complaint. In the paperwork I filled out, they asked the value of the missing property. How much are our memories worth? How much money would ease the sadness of what I’ve lost?

In the end, I didn’t ask for money, I asked for the journals. I wanted them to keep looking until they were found. After two years of waiting and hoping and praying, we had nothing!

This might seem silly, but I have actually in some ways grieved the loss of these memories. I have been holding out hope they would be found, but I have been coming to grips with the fact I will probably never see them again. Any time someone talks about their journal or a diary, I am reminded of what I have lost. Trying to encourage me, friends have suggested maybe someone has been reading them and turning my life story into a movie. One day I will be watching a film and suddenly recognize a moment from when I was 25 years old that I had forgotten! Rather than encourage me, this idea has now freaked me out. What if someone did find my journals and somehow used these memories against me or exaggerate my story to humiliate me!

Now I am hoping they are sitting in a box in a warehouse like the Ark of the Covenant somewhere.

Once I take those kind of goofy and self-focused thoughts captive, and start thinking more rationally and even praying about the situation, a new and better thought comes to mind.

Maybe God allowed this to happen to remind me that the best is yet to come. The best parts of my story have not yet been written. My past has been great, but my future could be even greater!

What about you? What if your memories of the past are slowing you down from a better future? Either good memories or bad memories may be holding you back.

We should never allow the past to haunt our present and ruin our future.

Consider Paul’s encouragement to his friends in Philippi:

“My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.” – Philippians 3:13-14 (J.B. Phillips translation)

For the rest of the story, see “Celebrating the Past, Looking Forward to the Future