Remembering Phineas

I’m not a big fan of looking back. I’d rather look forward. Not for a second do I want to be the old guy who’s always talking about the good ol’ days. But sometimes we have to look at what was to fully appreciate what is and what is to come.


To better appreciate my wife, it’s good to look back at our almost four decades together (she deserves a medal for her patience with me).

To truly value my children and grandchildren, it’s helpful to remember all the joy they have brought into my life.

To accurately assess where I’m at spiritually, it’s useful to recall my journey to date.

I know . . . sometimes we look back and it stirs a storm of regrets. Sometimes we remember our past with pain and deep sorrow. Sometimes we get lost in a maze of should haves and could haves.

I know.

But who we are today is the result of all that has happened in our lives so far. Our mistakes, our failures and our hurts have molded us. Our joys and past successes have shaped us. Even the sins against us have played a role in forming us into the people we are right now.

And here’s a greater truth: Nothing is beyond God’s power to redeem. Nothing is beyond His ability to restore. And therefore, nothing is ever wasted by Him.

Any life surrendered to the Father can be renewed and restored. We don’t have to stay stuck in what was in hopeless despair.

Five years ago today, my first grandson, Phineas, was born. Due to a premature birth and undeveloped lungs, he only lived an hour. Though I have lost many friends and family members over the years, no death has been more painful for me. Every detail of the first and last time I held Phineas in that hospital room in Portland is forever etched in my mind. The agony and sorrow in my son and daughter-in-law’s eyes still brings tears to mine.

It is a memory I sometimes wish I could forget. And if that were all there was—pain and sorrow—those emotions would consume me. But the story doesn’t end there.

Somehow, the loss of Phineas has developed in me an even deeper longing for heaven and a hope for what is to come. This world and this life are not all there is.

Somehow, the pain of my past has taught me to run to Abba Father and to snuggle close to Him when I’m hurting.

And somehow, whatever has happened in my life to date reminds me that God is bigger than my circumstances and always with me no matter what.

Grow from your past. Live in the moment. Press on toward your future. However, don’t keep your eyes fixed just on what was, but on what is and can be through the One who is always working for your benefit.

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:18, 28 (NLT)

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