Looking Back & Looking Up: John Part 1

In case you’re unfamiliar with the golden age of Pixar, the above quote is from The Incredibles. Edna Mode is easily one of my favorite cartoon characters. Her words about not looking back are completely in character, but it’s worth noting that in the movie she actually does look back in a very beneficial way. Mr. Incredible wants her to design a cape for him, but she dissuades him by citing multiple superheroes whose capes brought about their premature demise.

One of the things writing this blog has challenged me to do is to look back on the ways God has changed and grown me through this Scripture memory and review thing. This next series of posts will be about the gospel of John. I spent a year and change memorizing it. Since then I’ve put in a lot of hours keeping the whole thing in my brain.

Today I was able to remember something that happened at the beginning of that memorizing journey that really shifted my perspective on why I memorize and review and Who I should actually be seeking to know through my efforts.

Every year my parents, sisters, and their families all meet up at a rental house for a week. In 2016 we met up at a beach house in Virginia. It was a super fun week, but if I’m honest that was completely in spite of me. I was grumpy with Drew and our kids. I snapped at family members for not being able to read my self-focused mind. I know that it was as bad as all that because I have a crystal clear memory of my sister Caroline sighing, then telling me, “You know, Emma, for all of the Scripture you have memorized, you’re really not all that joyful.”

I went and floated in the ocean while I mulled her words over. So it wasn’t enough to spend time committing God’s Word to memory and completing my review schedule every day? That in and of itself wasn’t making me more holy and fruitful? I was pretty bummed out. What did God want from me then?

The Holy Spirit – the Counselor, the Helper- didn’t leave me there. He knew that the words recorded by John would help me understand what God wanted for me before I sought out what God wanted from me.

The gospel of John is overflowing with incredible themes, promises, truths, etc. A huge theme is God’s revealed plan for His children: what it is and how He accomplishes it. Every person who confesses their sin and believes in Christ for salvation is adopted as His child.

John records several of Jesus’ conversations with the Jewish leaders. This passage is from chapter five:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (v. 39-40)

Right after healing the blind man, Jesus has another conversation with the perplexed Jews. In it, He tells them this:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (10:10)

These are just two of many times Jesus declares His purpose for coming to earth. He came so that those who believe in Him may have life in Him.

Life! Abundantly!

I relate to the Jewish leaders all too much. I have often searched the Scriptures without seeing that they bear witness to Christ. I have hoped that perhaps my works can earn God’s approval.

The Spirit has graciously opened my eyes to His truth and has enabled me to hear God’s voice and follow the Good Shepherd. He continues to faithfully and patiently guide and sanctify me. He is changing my desires, priorities, relationships and everything about me for His good purposes.

So today I’m grateful to be able to look back, free to confess all of the ways I’ve sinned and failed – even & especially in my efforts to grow in holiness. It’s even more of a blessing to look upwards at Him and declare with joyous certainty that my security always has been and always will be in Christ alone.

May it be so for you as well!

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