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What 3 Biblical Overcomers Can Teach Us About the Past, Present and Future

What 3 Biblical Overcomers Can Teach Us About the Past, Present and Future
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“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’”
Ruth 1:16-17

The Past

Looking back...

How did I end up here? Why did I make that decision?

Paul, formerly Saul, had reasons for both pride and for regret. He knew, though, that the past was not the point. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 

The Present

Right now… 

I’m trying. I seek, ask and knock. My prayers are on repeat. I am folded knees, open hands, tired eyes. I listen. I prioritize. I pursue.

God is here.

A poignant example of seeking God in the present, David shows us how to pray in the “right now” with prayers like, “may my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice to the Lord” and “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Throughout the psalms, David shows us what it looks like to be with God in the present.

The Future

What if… 

My worst fears come true? What I do doesn’t matter? My prayers aren’t answered? I fail? I am wrong? I misunderstood? I can’t do it? I am not enough? I end up alone? 

God will be there.

Facing wounds from the past, danger in the present, and an uncertain future, Ruth shows us how to approach the unknown with God. Her famous words to Naomi not only illustrate her loyalty to her daughter-in-law, but also her commitment to God: “wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people, your God my God.” Naomi has no idea if or how they will survive, but she is certain that they will have each other and God.

Three overcomers from the Bible: Paul, David and Ruth. Their circumstances were not easy. They are wounded, sometimes by their very own choices and actions. They face danger, carry regret and do not know what the future holds for them. But, do we question whether God is with them? 

Closing Prayer
God, So much of our anxiety is based on the unknowns that lie ahead. We say worry is “imagining a future without God.” But I wonder if it is also living the present without You and reliving the past without You. You have been here all along, loving us and working our circumstances for Your good. And, You are here with us right now, in this very moment. Thank You for the examples of Paul, David, and Ruth that not only orient us to You, but also point us to Your constancy in our past, present and future. Amen.
Song: We Are One From the Faithful album, a song inspired by the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Question for Reflection

Right now, is there a phase of your life (past, present or future) that is harder for you to see God in? If so, which one? And, is there someone in the Bible who serves as an example of how to make peace with this?

Holly Pennington
January 23, 2023

Right now, for me, it is the past. I wish I could have done some things differently. I am struck by how Paul is honest and humble about his past, but he does not let it hinder his present and future. We know he has big regrets, we know who he was before Damascus, and yet we praise him for who he became and how God used his life. If Paul was stuck in his past, if he saw it as a time without God, we would too. But, instead, his is a story of beautiful redemption.