Covenant Connections

Looking Forward and Not Behind

May 5, 2022

By: Sarah Cornell

Do you ever intentionally take pictures of people you do not know because the setting is just perfect? Weird or not, I have done it. There are just those opportunities that you have to capture. As you can see in the pictures here, you do not see anyone’s faces and I will not disclose where or when they were taken.

But I started thinking about what these people were looking at. They were all taking time to stop and reflect and they cast their gaze on something, whether it is a sunrise, a waterfall, a lake or a horizon. Then I thought about the direction they were looking in. These people were all looking ahead. None of them looked behind or saw that I was taking a picture of them, thank goodness. That might have been embarrassing.

Looking forward and not behind….reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures.

Isaiah 43:18-19- Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland.
Reminders of our past are all around us. Reminders of where we have been and where we are now. There are pictures and people, trophies and scars.

God tells us through the prophet Isaiah that we are not to dwell in the past, but should be moving forward into the future where He is doing new things. Things for our good. Paul said something similar in Philippian 3, “forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead.” If anyone wanted to forget the things they had done, it was Paul.

I wonder if Paul regretted the things he did in his previous life, in his past. I was talking with my dad the other day about regrets. He asked if I had any. I thought about it for a moment and answered, “I do not”. Now I will admit that there are things that I should not have done in life (I feel most of us probably feel that way), but I do not regret them, because they have made me who I am. And even in the bad, like the apostle Paul, God has worked things out for my good. I cannot change the past and I do not know if I can change the future, but I can trust that God is here as he is there.

As we gaze into the distance out there somewhere, like the people in my photos, I encourage you into forward thinking and forward praying.

Sarah Cornell is the Commissioned Ruling Elder serving the Belton church. She is also an inquirer with the Foothills presbytery as she seeks to be ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. She was inspired to start photography as a spiritual practice after joining in on a webinar on photography put out by the Presbyterian Outlook. This is one of the devotionals she wrote about her photography.