Dec. 24, 1999

My family and I just made a trip back to Kansas where my parents live for Christmas. In order for all of us to go, we needed to take my pick-up which has a topper on it. So, in the back my son, (Brent) and I laid down facing the back end of the truck, and Carol, my wife, and daughter, Sarah, along with Destiny, our foster child, sat in the front cab of the truck. Midway to our destination, we exchanged places with each other, so we each had turns at sitting in the front looking forward, or in the back watching where we had come from.

As we started traveling, I looked out the back door window of the truck, and watched as the city of Colorado Springs finally became a speck in the distance. I saw Pikes Peak as the rays of the sunrise hit it and turned it into an array of gold's and violets. The mountain slowly became a small hump on the edge of the horizon as we drove on down the road. I watched, as most people do on trips such as this, the scenery which we were passing by alongside the road. I then thought to myself, and wondered what the scene might be in the front, where my wife, and daughter(s) were. I realized that their vantage point was obviously different from my own--they were viewing and watching in anticipation of what was before them on the highway, and I was observing where we had just come from.

Is it not the same way for us in our own spiritual lives and walks with the Lord? We can either find ourselves reminiscing about the past and going over these "images" which we have experienced. We may regret some of these things which have perhaps happened in our lives. We need to know though, that God has brought us out of the kingdom of darkness and into His marvelous light. He has washed us clean of any sin, and made "all things new." We also need to remember to press on towards the goal.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:12-14

God has told us to:

"Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past."

Now, as I have said, the vantage point was different for those who were watching from the front of the vehicle. They saw the world as it unfolded before them, and they were watching in anticipation of this scenery and what they would see next.

As we all know, we are at the end of the year, 1999, which is also the end of the century, and the end of this millennium, and the beginning of a new one. Now, this is also debatable, because many consider that this millennium does not end until the end of the year 2000, and not at this juncture between 1999 and 2000. I however, am not going to quibble with this, and will keep to what this message is endeavoring to present.

So, now we are watching the scenery before us. The tide of our Savior's birth has been upon us, and we await the new year, and the beginning of a new millennium. We have had many forecasts which have pointed to this time period--most of which have centered around the Y2K crisis. I propose that it won't be as disastrous as many have forecasted. We await the new year and millennium with great anticipation. This may be a fulfillment and culmination of many years of waiting for His plan in each of our lives to unfold. The finest wine often takes longer to ferment and to mature. I believe the "new wine of His Spirit" will be poured out in greater measure than ever before. His sons and daughters will come into a greater stature and maturity, and in time, I believe that many will come into a greater unity in the faith. We will see more and more, how much we need to be interdependent upon others in the body of Christ. While this will be happening in the body of Christ, I believe that darkness will also be manifested more:

"But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." II. Tim. 3:1-5

"Jesus answered--"Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, "I am the Christ;" and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birthpangs."

(I believe that we have been experiencing "birth pangs" for a while now.)

vs. 12--"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

In Roman mythology there is a god which is called Janus. He is viewed as one which is facing both forward and backwards--the future, and the past. We know from scripture that God is the God of the past, present, and the future. He is eternal and exists since before the world and universe were created, since before time began. He is present with us now, and resides in the future forever. Our viewpoint should be one which is similar. We need to have our seats facing forward while at the same time, be able to turn our face towards the back window and see where we have come from. We need to always learn our lessons well from what history teaches us. We cannot build unless we have a blueprint and a design. The Master Builder has given us this. There are others who have gone before us:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Heb. 12:1

We live in the present, and need to know that God is an ever-present help in times of trouble, and that He also never changes:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Ps. 46:1
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Heb. 13:8

As my family came back from our trip to Colorado, I saw a faint image of the mountains on the horizon. They were there just as a faint silhouette. Then as we came further down the road, the parts of this mountain became more pronounced, and I could see more the details which were there. I noticed that there were some small amounts of snow still on the peak, and I observed the light as it came across a section of the one of the foothills. As we come into the new year, we perhaps saw the mountain in the distance. But we have not been able to see ALL of the details yet. We need to approach the new year with anticipation and wonder at what God will do. Let us keep our seats facing forwards though, and at the same time, remember where we have just come from.

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Rev. 22: 12-13

"All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the (present) or the (future)--all are yours and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." I Co. 3:21-22

Stephen Hanson