Facing Forward

  • April 16, 2018
  • #9381

Living in the past can lead to depression, unless we are able to press on and trust the Lord with the future.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a poem to bless your heart.

Welcome to Joni and Friends and thanks so much for spending these few minutes with me. The other day I was looking through my files and I came across a thick folder filled with old poems — it was like finding a treasure trove of things precious and long ago collected, most of them that I’d forgotten about. So I took a moment to leaf through them, and each one seems to be connected to some special memory from my past. And as I read through them, one by one, I noticed something curious. I have tended to collect poetry that, well — how do I say this — poetry that instills courage, not so much the syrupy, sentimental poems that are sweet and nostalgic. I did find a few of those, but most of them were man-sized poems — poetry that lifts the heart and breathes bravery and valor and daring into your soul, poems that pull your vision onto grander, more glorious heights with words that make you live life onward and upward. Like, for instance, this one called “Facing Forward” by Henry VanDyke. It goes:

Let me but live from year to year,
With forward face and unreluctant soul.
Not hastening to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays its toll
To youth and age, and travels on with cheer.

So let the way wind up the hill or down,
Though rough or smooth, the journey will be joy,
Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
I shall grow old, but never lose life’s zest,
Because the road’s last turn will be the best.
– Henry VanDyke

Wow! Now that infuses courage into your heart! And I love that part about living life from year to year with a forward face and a soul that is unreluctant. No wonder the poem is titled “Facing Forward”. It’s the way Christians are supposed to live, like it says in Philippians Chapter 3, verse 14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Look, friend, I can speak from personal experience, because — believe me — there was a time shortly after I broke my neck in that diving accident that I was frozen, numb, hopeless, frightened. I was stuck. I was stuck back in the past; stuck in a world of what ifs: What if I had not gone to the beach that day; what if I had not taken that dive; what if I had checked the water. Such thoughts pushed me back into the past and kept me suffocated under depression. But thankfully, Christian friends came along and kept pushing me into God's Word where I discovered that following Jesus is one long string of action verbs: strive, strain, push ahead and press on. I found that it is not only the best way to approach a disability; it’s the best way to tackle life. Face it looking forward, or as I often say, “Onward and upward.”

Hey, I would love for you to have a copy of this poem for times when you’re feeling stuck in the past. You can write me at Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91376 and ask for a copy, or if you’d rather, you can go to my radio page today at joniandfriends.org. We have it there for you to download the poem “Facing Forward” right off our website. Remember, friend, do not be putting your hand to the plow and looking back; don’t get mired in the past; don’t be looking over your shoulder. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with the Lord.”

*Previously aired as #8076 on 4/15/13.

© Joni and Friends


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