THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (SERMON ILLUSTRATION) - Ayriel Narine
Have you ever pondered upon every decision from the dawn of creation to this present point in time and even further to what the future holds? Today’s readings from the Bible speak to us about the Lord’s decision to choose us, as well as about our choices for growth, and the decisions we make along life’s pathway. The Lord calls us, he commissions us and he allows us to be a blessing to others. As we listen and meditate on God’s word, our focus will be on 3 key points. The first being how the past leads up to us, the 2nd identifying the present as a gift and the final point diving into what we make of our future.
Key point 1- The past leads up to us (Faith)
As we dive into the first key point, I invite you to sit and think about the few questions I am about to impose. How many of us here often dwell on our past circumstances? Have you ever asked yourself why me? Why did I do that or why did it this particular encounter or experience ever happen to me? As you sit and think about these questions, let us reflect on the first scripture reading which was read to us in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 1 verse 4 and 5, The lord said to me “I chose you before I gave you life and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations. When we look into God’s calling for Jeremiah, God used Jeremiah to warn and to prophesy to the people on the catastrophes that was to fall upon the nations. Let us observe then no matter what lies ahead, God gives us faith to believe in the things that cannot be seen ahead of time. Let us look at it from today’s perspective, it has been one month since we said goodbye to the past year and welcomed the new year 2022 to be a fresh start for each of us. For many including myself, I reflected on both the positives and negatives of the past year and like many others I aimed to leave it in the past and begin a clean slate. I’m sure many of us here today would have made resolutions and decided to simply put the past behind us and focus on a better year with better things to come. However, in understanding our past, we will realize that every aspect of history has generated in each of us right here and now. Let’s go back to a history lesson, if we journey back to our old days where it all began, our ancestors survived the unimaginable starting in 1766 when slavery began or how about in 1845 when indentureship began. Now these are just 2 local challenges that our ancestors faced, what about on the international level, people faced world wars the first being during 1914 to 1918 and the second being from 1939 to 1945. It doesn’t stop there, people also faced plagues e.g. the outbreaks of cholera or the Spanish flu and presently facing the coronavirus. All being external factors, internally each of us and all persons throughout the world have also had to deal with our own personal issues in the past whether it be death, sickness, unemployment, divorce etc. Having said that, in understanding God’s purpose and plan for us let us be reminded that before we were born the lord knew us and had a plan for each of us and this comes from one of my favorite scriptures in the book of Jeremiah also and its quite a familiar one in chapter 29 verse 11 God says “ I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and plans to bring about the future you hope for”. Amidst life’s hindrances, isn’t that the most reassuring thought? to acknowledge that no matter what circumstances you would have experienced in the past, God still has the rest of your life planned out to bring you contentment. There is one powerful quote from Perry Noble who is an American preacher, author, and the senior pastor of the Second Chance Church. He says and I quote “If you don’t let your past die, it won’t let you live”. Simple but a significantly profound quote In knowing this information, we may not always understand why certain things happen to us but let us continue to acknowledge that a perfect life does not exist but in the midst of difficult times we can choose to believe it is God’s perfect will for our lives. So let’s focus on how we can practically move on from the past. Firstly, Let us forgive ourselves for mistakes we have made, recognizing that the lord forgives us for the past, secondly, let us not hold on to the past trauma but acknowledge that God’s plan has better in store for us and finally, let us appreciate that this moment is the beginning of the rest of our lives, let us walk by faith and not by sight by allowing God to continue to plan our lives in his way.
Key point 2- The present is a gift (Hope)
As we move into key point number 2 (The present is a gift). Let’s look at the reality of what is happening throughout the world and right here in our nation. Friends, in this present time, the breath that we breathe, the basic needs that we have, the family and friends we get to see and live our lives with is truly, most definitely the best gift we can have. No matter what our past would have looked like, we are here by God’s grace. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 17 it tells us “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” As we look to our present, we continue to face challenging times. We face our challenges and we learn from them to help others with their problems, perils and pitfalls along the pilgrimage from grace to glory. However, we must admit amongst these challenges we are here now, we are alive and healthy in the presence of the Lord. Let us rejoice that the Lord calls us now. We accept the present as it is but we appreciate that we have the grace of God filling us with divine love that bestows the talents we have, the time we get to share and the treasures we possess to transform the universe for the better. Instead of worrying and wondering what challenges can arise in 5 minutes or even 5 days, let us focus on some practical ways in which we can live in the present, let us first focus on being proactive rather than inactive in our present circumstances. Meaning that we should work towards planning for the future in whatever way our present circumstances will allow us too. For some, that means setting goals, investing for future gain or maybe saving money for a rainy day. Secondly, Let us meditate on God’s promises by constantly reading the being filled by the word. Thirdly, let us find or make the time to do something we love, in a world with constant uncertainty or changes day by day, let us set time to enjoy the moments we have now. Finally, let us keep a mental or even a physical record or take notice of the little joys in life rather than keeping track of the negatives, let us fill our spirit with enjoying the present as it is and hope for a better tomorrow.
Key Point 3- The future is what we make it (Love)
As we move into our final key point of the future is what we make it. Although, it is quite self-explanatory. Let us focus on the aspect of love. Sometimes the past and present situations we face can make us doubtful in a better future but in the third scripture reading which was read to us by In the book of 1 Corinthians In verse 8 we are told of the great love that exceeds beyond any measure of understanding we can ever comprehend from God’s promises to us for a brighter future. Maturity is motivated by love. Love is the embodiment and fulfillment of maturity in the Lord here and hereafter In chapter 13 in verse 12, it says “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” in translation, it simply means, now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that we know now is partial and incomplete, but then we will know everything completely, just as God now knows us completely. Take for example, for the chocolate lovers like myself, in a box of various chocolates, there are a lot of varying flavors. Some may have a very sweet taste and others may have a bit of bitterness in its flavor. If you pick one, it is you who will experience the sweetness or the bitterness of whatever you would pick. Life is similar to that. Whatever decisions you choose and pick in your life, it is you who will experience the sweetness or the bitterness of the choices you make in your life so as you are preparing for your future, bear in mind that your choices will affect what the future has in store for not only you but the generations after you.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, to recap, let us be guided by God’s word, his unending grace and mercies and in doing so let’s try some of the practical strategies that were mentioned previously, let us focus on the present, let us not dwell on the past, let us learn to accept uncertainty especially in these unprecedented times, let God lead your life and remember above all, let us choose to be mature so that we look at ourselves and one another with love. I ask that you question yourselves, think about the examples from your own lives about how you are using the lessons of your past and the opportunities of your present lives to create a better future?
Let us live so that wherever we go and whatever we do, we can echo the words of Jesus that our actions fulfil the promises of Scripture even in the presence of those who misunderstand us and let’s be honest while we are busy living for God and doing the best we can given our personal circumstances in life, we all sometimes feel misunderstood by someone This comes from the gospel reading which was read to us by (Luke 4:21). Even when God’s will looks different to what the world perceives, his will is still and will always be perfect in our lives. Remember, we are called to be world changers not world chasers.
As we conclude, let us remember that..
We are instruments of the Lord’s love in this world. How do we show our Christian calling and identity? Our thoughts, words and actions may uplift, confuse, and even upset people the Lord calls us to serve. Our determination must be filled with loving empathy so that we inspire and lead everyone in the divine direction.
In the name of the father and the son and the holy Spirit. Amen!
Let us pray….
Almighty God, we thank you for your word which was proclaimed to us Father we pray that in understanding the three stages of our lives that we truly display and practice faith when reflecting on our past, that we seek hope when preparing in our present time and practice Love when visualizing all your continued plans for our future. Help us to apply these and all the other practical means of learning to live a whole and happy lifestyle even in the midst of uncertainty. Help us to continue to be guided by your promises and live our lives according to your will for us. This prayer we pray in the name of your precious son Jesus Christ. Amen!