Summary: Examining where we are, where we have been and where we should be going in light of God’s word.
What is the first question the Lord asked Adam?
In Genesis 3:9 we see that question: “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” We would simply say, "Where are you?"
It is not as if God did not know where Adam was. An omniscient God knows where we are. The real question is "Do WE know where we are?" When God asks a question such as "Where are you?" the answer is not, "I’m in here in Church." The question we must consider is "Where are we relative to where God wants us to be?"
"Where are you, Adam?" Where are you, Joe, Bill, Suzy, Tom, Mary, and John?"
You’ve all heard the cute story about the kid who comes home and his dad is checking up on him. He asks: "Where have you been?" Out. "Who did you see?" Nobody. "What did you do?" Nothing. The extension of this little tale is pretty obvious: One day, each of us is going home. The Lord’s may ask: "Where have you been?" "Who did you see?" "What did you do?" He is not going to want to hear. "Out, Nobody, and Nothing."
Jesus told us His opinion on such an answer in the Parable of the Buried Talent.
So many church members are Out, they are seeing Nobody and they are doing Nothing. Of course, that doesn’t apply to us. We are here, we may be sharing our testimony with people, and we may be engaged in the work of the Kingdom. Nevertheless, we need to give serious consideration to the question, "Where are we?"
I’d like to be able ask this question for us as a church. "Where are we?"
That may be an impossible undertaking. So the starting place is for each of us - as individuals - to come to grips with this question. That’s not easy, either. "Where are we?" We could make the argument that "It may not matter, where we are, the really important consideration is "Where are we going?" Better question: "Where should we be going?" and "How can we get there?" I think all of us can agree that none of us has arrived. These questions are in line with the apostle Paul’s advice in Philipians Chapter 3:13-14
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
We’ve asked the questions: Where are we? and Where are we going? Paul has alluded to another question that we might ought to ask: "Where are we coming from?" Paul’s advice was to forget about the past so we can move on with the future.
How well do we do that? How well do we let go of the past? We will have difficulty making the transition from where we are now to move on to where God wants us to be if we are cannot let go of (forget) the past. Sometimes we have difficulty forgetting "what is behind" because of Grief, Grudges, and Glory.
Grief is almost always a result of a loss of something. A relationship that failed. A loved one who died. Health problems. Business failure. There are many things over which we can grieve. Grief is a natural reaction to loss and it is not emotionally healthy to deny our grief. However, in the process of time, we should be able to trade the "spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise." We should come to a point where we are thankful for the time we had with a loved one who has gone on. When that happens, then Grief is transformed into Gratitude.
What about missed opportunities? I can look back on promotions I did NOT get and be thankful that I missed the problems that went with that particular job. Eventually, we have to leave the grief behind in order to press on to what God has for us in the tomorrows of life. Over the course of time, we have to let go of the grief. If we are grieving over things that were lost 5, 10, 20 years ago, it is past time to change we way we look at the loss.
What about Grudges? Deep-seated resentment has its basis in unforgiveness. One of the most sobering parables that Jesus told was about the unforgiving servant. You know the story from Matt 18: A servant owed his master $10M - an amount that was impossible to pay. He begged to have just a chance to try to repay the debt. The master had pity on him and wiped the slate clean. He then went out and demanded payment of $100 from a fellow servant and had him throw in prison because he could not pay it. As the story unfolded, the master heard about the sorry behavior of the forgiven servant and reversed his decision. The first servant was throw in jail (literally given to the tormentors) and he would remain there (in jail) until every penny was paid – that is an eternity.