Under pressure? Want somebody to love? Or just to ride your bicycle?
Recently, I went to see Queen with Adam Lambert. A presence in the music industry for over five decades, most of Queen’s songs are over 30 years old – and yes, I knew every single one of them. A concert twice cancelled due to you know what, the two intervening years gave me plenty of time to acclimatise to the fact that Adam Lambert was not going to imitate Freddie Mercury – nor did he. Yes, we saw ‘the great pretender’ in video and heard his voice but this was a band who in the energy and musicality, had also looked forward and continued to do so.
So, from one Queen to another. During the recent Jubilee celebrations, reflecting on her presence of over seven decades, Her Majesty quoted some words from Winston Churchill: ‘The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.’ While I can see what the great orator was trying to get at, I am also minded to disagree.
The problem is that we can find ourselves looking back much more than we look forward. I might have expected an exact Freddie lookalike (Adam Lambert was superb, by the way). In church life, we see this in the phrase, ‘we’ve always done it that way’ or being told how the last vicar did it! We might tend to think of ‘the good old days’ or talk about ‘in my day’ (as if ‘my day’ was not ‘today’).
Yes, there are many aspects of the past which were good and, arguably, better than the current times. But it is one of life’s great sadnesses when not letting go of the past eats away at someone’s very personality and soul (and, sadly, I have met many for whom that is true). So many appear not to ‘want to break free’.
If we are constantly looking backwards we will never see where we are going.
Later this year, my debut novel is being published. A story of loss and love, it speaks of hope over adversity and that moving on in life is always possible. Indeed, it’s called Looking to Move On.
And in many respects, that’s what we can all be doing both as individuals and within our churches. Here in Devon, the Church of England is encouraging us to take ‘Next Steps’ on how we grow in prayer, make new disciples and serve people with joy. So, how are we moving on, making progress, taking next steps in our own lives? They don’t have to be big steps – but we do need to be ‘walking’.
For in order to look forwards, we are to look to God, Lord of the past, present and future, to inspire, encourage and strengthen us. The Lord and his faithfulness to us, not the past in itself, is to be the foundation of all we do.
The psalmist summed this up very succinctly: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, we will labour in vain.’ (Psalm 127:1)
May that be true for each one of us.