Monday, October 07, 2013

Understanding Backwards; Living Forwards

The problem with posting anything remotely religious is that one gives the impression of believing / embodying / BEING what it is that has been written – and that impression may not exactly be true.

Having said that, I am posting this as a record of what struck me on a Sunday in July as I was practicing getting the phrasing right in a hymn for a substitute organist “gig” at a local Presbyterian church:
Hast thou not seen How thy desires e’er have been Granted in what He ordaineth?
(By Joachim Neander, 17th century German Reformed Church)

Then, as part of the sermon from Acts 22 about the second recounting of Saul’s/Paul’s conversion experience, the pastor quoted from Søren Kierkegaard's journals: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

The full quote is:
It is really true what philosophy tells us, that life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards. A proposition which, the more it is subjected to careful thought, the more it ends up concluding precisely that life at any given moment cannot really ever be fully understood; exactly because there is no single moment where time stops completely in order for me to take position [to do this]: going backwards.
(See documentation of source.)

Later, I was sent this article (written by a 21 year old woman):
Even if we exhausted our own abilities to serve the Lord in our lifetime, we could never do for the world and the kingdom what our families—what our children and their children and their children—will go on to do.
In Luke 13:19, Jesus says this about the kingdom of God: “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”
As we prepare our students for being agents of massive, earth-shattering revival around the world, let us also remember that Jesus says the kingdom will grow slowly, even subtly, from something seemingly insignificant, like a tree from a seed...and like families.
Finally, I read a post by my cousin’s wife about another Soren that made me want to cry—and which is a perfect REAL HARD LIFE illustration of what the 19th century Søren wrote about:  Although, just when the understanding might come is not clear.

To Do: List ways in which I have seen my desires granted “in what He ordaineth” so that life can be lived forwards NOW.

How about you?


jmb said...

Wow. So much to digest here. The idea of backwards understanding/forward living really resonates. And it makes me ponder what living in the present means. Thanks for sharing this.

Jeff said...

I think life can bearably be lived forward *because* we look backward and see (partially, through a glass darkly) the Tapestry that is being sovereignly and lovingly woven with individual threads that seemed unconnected and purposeless at the time.

(It has been a while since I visited your blog and was encouraged to still see you blogging.)


Janice Bakke said...

Thank you both for commenting here! I hope to write more here this year and really appreciate your feedback.