Friday, June 25, 2010

Looking back to encourage us today

What if everything that's happened in your life thus far was to prepare you for today?

I had the chance several months ago to sit in on an interview my sister Tracy did with Duncan Phillips, the drummer for the Newsboys. He had a lot of great things to say not only on the band, but on living positive and being a Christian. A few of his quotes stuck out to me:

"I look at how much hard work it was [the early stages of the band] and also how loyal and faithful our Creator was through all this. There were so many what-ifs. I look back on it now with hindsight. I can see the hand of the Lord there in various situations. There was no way they could've happened by chance. Looking back encourages me when I look forward. I look forward now with courage because there have been a lot of times in our careers, especially just recently, where it was like, “Oh my gosh, what are we gonna do? This thing's over; we're not getting anywhere.” But the Lord has been good."

Notice his quote, "Looking back encourages me when I look forward". That says something to me today. I daresay all of us have experiences where God has moved in our lives, only we didn't recognize God's hand until later. In hind sight. Duncan continues:

"I know in my heart that He is real. I've seen what He's done in my life over the years. It's one of the great things about being a Christian for a while now - I can look back and see all the incredible things that could not have happened by chance. They happened because of an ordained process that can only come from the Creator, Someone greater than me."

As a writer, I see how true these statements are in my own life. Every experience, good or bad, can be used in my writing. In order to write deeply I need to have something to draw from. I'm turning 31 this year, but the Lord has blessed me with some amazing experiences.

I was traveling the country in my early 20s for our family business and have been in all but four US states. I saw my first bald eagle outside Flagstaff, Arizona sitting high and mighty in a huge pine tree. I helped put out a forest fire on the road up to Estes Park, Colorado. I saw a grizzly bear eating a dead animal carcass in Yellowstone National Park. I've driven down the streets of San Francisco at one o'clock in the morning. I saw the Twin Towers a week before they went down.

The funny thing is, as I was experiencing these things (and many more like them) I had no idea I would need them later in life. But as I write my novels I'm finding myself using these specific details. Recently I wrote about watching a hummingbird diving toward a stream, its shrill tweet sounding like a distant policeman's siren. That came from my own life too.

But here's the thing that goes back to what Duncan was saying. We ALL have experiences in our pasts that color our today. What if an experience we first thought of as negative actually developed our character into something that will impact our future? Our ministries?

I don't believe God purposely causes bad things to happen in our lives to teach us things, but I do believe He can help us through them. We can learn from the negative. And maybe we can use the experience in a book someday!

God has a specific plan for your life. He's ordaining your steps even now. Knowing that can change our outlook on life.


  1. What an encouraging post. C.J. ;) Thanks so much, it was just want I needed to hear today. "Looking back encourages me when I look forward." I heart that.

    Oh, and I've been to every state except for 4, also. How weird is that?

  2. I needed to hear this. Thanks so much.

  3. Yeah, I totally agree. Sometimes it seems that our challenges helps us to create stronger prose than the positive. Maybe it's because challenges take our entire being to get through; mind, body and spirit.

  4. This is so crazy, I just scheduled a similar topic blog on my personal blog, for Tuesday, before I even read this. Sounds like God is working this in a lot of people's hearts right now. Really cool. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. This was a beautiful post and absolutely true. I would not be where I am today without my faith. And coming from a family that doesn't believe in God, I can see the difference in how my life has unfolded compared to the lives of my extended family.

    It is truly a daily blessing.

    And the newsboys! I'm screaming like a teenaged fan here. I LOVE them from the bottom of my heart. So do my kids. We jam to them whenever we get the chance.