Look Forward

I used to sit on a church board whose lead elder refused to allow kids to be baptized.

This person maintained the children couldn’t possibly understand the depth of the experience. Plus, their parents should have baptized them when they were infants (this denomination practiced infant baptism).

I could not believe my ears. My skin crawled. My mind was blown. I was outraged.

How on earth could we think kids getting water baptized was a bad thing?!

I pressed the issue. We had children coming to know Jesus and now, as a board, we were preventing them from taking the next steps in their discipleship.

It was unconscionable. I didn’t understand it until I heard this…

The lead elder said, “It’s so sad we’ve lost the beauty of infant baptism. No one values it anymore. We are a reformed church but parents don’t care about our traditions.”

…and there it was.

This person was saying, “I miss how we did things when I was younger. Things were better and if I can’t have my way, no one can have theirs.”

I share this story because it perfectly illustrates a dangerous mindset we find in today’s devotional verses.

The Israelites had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. In Ezra 3, they laid the foundation. This was a cause for celebration for some, but for many others, it was reason to weep.

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Ezra 3:12–13 ESV

The Babylonians destroyed the first temple that Solomon built (1 Kings 8).

It was breathtaking. It represented the height of Israel’s power. The older priests and leaders knew this temple would never touch that level of grandeur.

Rather than celebrate that God was reuniting his people, restoring worship, and repairing their connection with him, they lamented. They couldn’t see the gain because they only focused on what used to be.

God was doing a new thing, but they couldn’t let go of the old. They missed a chance at joy, at trusting God, at looking forward.

This was the thought pattern that board member was stuck in, and many of us can get caught in, too. We cling to nostalgia and wrap ourselves in comfortable memories. We dream about the glory days and run down (or even outright prevent) the new things God’s doing now.

Let’s look ahead to the New Jerusalem God has prepared for us—because nothing compares to what the Lord has in store (Romans 8:18).

Don’t cling to the old when God is doing something new.

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