By looking back once in a while to recall -- but not living in or dwelling on the past -- I think we can draw tremendous encouragement to praise God for what He has done, to feel hope that, yes, we are making progress.

I keep my e-mail inbox very clean. However, I do save many emails in folders labeled “pending” or “hold” and so forth. My email account is like a virtual time capsule. From time to time, I need to find an old email and will do a search. Sometimes this means scrolling through the subject lines when the search results don’t pull up what I need.

Recently, as I searched for an email and scanned the subject lines, I was transported through the last several years of my life and family activities. Up came reminders of mistakes made, different jobs, baptisms, finances, deaths, volunteering, get-togethers with family or friends, health challenges, and so much more. It was actually an emotional experience! Both pleasant and painful.

The pain came from seeing those emails when conversations, actions, and attitudes that were less than “pure, lovely, praiseworthy” even though things I wrote then seemed correct from my point of view.

The pleasant emotions came as in email after email I saw God’s providence and tender, loving care. His provisions, healing and the realization of how much he has corrected many of my wrong attitudes, thinking, and behaviors in what seems like such a short time.

My pessimism and defeatist tendencies have blinded me to much of the progress of the sanctification going on in my spiritual heart. No, I am not close to perfect. In fact, I often feel so far from where I should be that I think God would be doing the world a great favor by starting fresh with another human and closing the book on me.

But what I cannot shake is the inexpressible joy and amazement in seeing what God has done as I reviewed my old emails. How the Holy Spirit has given me the gift of much more right-thinking now than I had in the past. I praise God that I can see concrete examples of the victory we have in Christ that the Bible talks about.

And I can appreciate and celebrate how God has used HVPC, the Revelation Bible Study, my husband, a Christian counselor, email devotionals (and yes, even Facebook posts as my friends and family share their real struggles and the things that encourage them or illustrate important life lessons they have learned) to reshape my thinking, answer long-burning questions, and flat out tell me that some of how I was thinking was just plain wrong.

The real beauty was learning that as God cleaned and repaired my spiritual heart, it then correspondingly worked to bring healing to the very problems and situations that were poisoning and hardening it, reducing the severity and frequencies of many destructive cycles I was unknowingly caught in.

Recalling what was, we can see better how God has fixed several problems and carried us through those that weren’t supposed to be fixed; and to see the people He has used to grow us, help us, love and encourage us.

I can’t wait to see how much more God will do in my life in the next several years (if Jesus hasn’t returned or taken me to Him by then). I agree with Paul, and “do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV).

God is good, all the time, and through all circumstances.


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