From the Rev: Looking Back to Move Forward?

Dec 31, 2013

On the last day of 2013, there is occasion to pause for reflection. There is much debate around looking backward in order to move forward in our culture. Some criticism – that the only reason we look back is so that we can make more efficient our practice or modernize our mechanistic attitude. Some wisdom – that we ought to learn from mistakes and strive to not repeat them, to teach our children how to overcome them. Some practical application – goal-setting, resolutions, and the like. Some fantastical dreaming – see above.

In looking back and contemplating 2013, there are several poignant moments (notice I didn’t use the word highlights) for 2013 that have shaped and framed 2013 as its own unique year. Below are some of the stories that have had significant impact in my own life and ministry:

In addition to the stories above, there are countless stories that fill the backdrop – moments of prayer, counseling, training, growth, and much, much more. The temptation is to review some of these major events and turn them into a mere exercise of “improvement” – to be critical of ones self and miss perhaps what God has intended in the “between” spaces.

For example, days after the memorial service for Elysa, I found myself sleepless at night, wondering “Could I have said something different, or better?” “Could I have comforted family? Friends? The team? in a different way?” If I am honest, too, when Ben shared with me about his desire to leave CrossTraining I was left wondering, where did I fail in my leadership? in my collegiality? and it felt as though CrossTraining was going to fall apart before my very eyes. But God is faithful, He uses us in our weakness, our frailty, our not-quite-good-enough and imperfections.

While I do believe that there may be valuable lessons to learn from the past and this last year and season of ministry and life, there is the realization that moving forward has less to do with my own power, or skill, or education, or leadership, or success, or failure. It has much, much more (perhaps, entirely) to do with God moving something forward – that something maybe being me, CrossTraining, the chaplains under CrossTraining, those we serve.

And so, at the end of 2013, I find myself praying a simple prayer that is reminiscent of some words that Jesus said when he said, “I can only do what I see the Father doing.” Simply it is, “Lord, help me move forward (into 2014 and beyond) with you.”  And, Lord willing, it will be. May it be for you as well.



Rev. Brad Kenney

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