This past weekend Joyce and I were part of the homecoming in a former congregation in Oxford, MS. It was an enjoyable, encouraging, uplifting experience. That congregation fashions its homecoming around its campus ministry. They plan their homecoming to coincide with homecoming at the University of Mississippi. The result is the return of some former students. We not only saw many friends who continue living in Oxford, but we also unexpectedly saw some friends who attended the university.

Every homecoming is filled with memories of the past. All such occasions are filled with memories, reminders, and lessons. For thirty-six hours, I had a heavy dose of all three.

Some were light-hearted and humorous. Several told me that humorous "lie": "You haven't aged a bit!" Because I look in the mirror daily as I shave, I know better! I suspect the problem is more one of "eyesight" than of a "fountain of youth"!

Some existed in the silence of my heart. Mark Parker (of Harding Graduate School of Religion) coordinated an auditorium Bible class devotional. Along with the songs and readings, he requested sharing centered in realizations of past blessings received through that congregation. As some shared, I quietly thought of those now dead but who profoundly touched and blessed me and my family. Though dead, they still speak to me.

There were many lessons! They included reminders of lives blessed by God through His use of you; reminders of your own humanity and weakness; reminders that God can use you but does not depend on you; reminders of the incredible ways your life was blessed; and reminders that one's influence continues to live in one's absence.

The past is the past. One cannot live in it--either in its successes or failures--without wasting the present. No matter how appreciative one is of the past's good and blessings, it is never (ever!) a substitute for the present. Allow the past to bless the present, but never allow it to place a curse on the present. Be grateful, remember blessings, and be encouraged, but keep moving forward. Always be certain to do this: let your memories from the past clear a pathway to humility, not to arrogance.

Philippians 3:13,14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Pray for Chris and Karen Benjamin and sons. Chris hopes to arrive November 3.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 October 2003

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