This started as a simple, encouraging post. I was going to suggest that we look back at our own lives from five years ago and see how we’ve changed.

It’s an important aspect of understanding how we can change, that we can change.

I realized, for example, that five years ago I hadn’t yet run more than 6 miles at a time. I didn’t know anything about chaplaincy, hadn’t watched more than two people die. I didn’t know anything about Zoom, had never been to physical therapy, assumed that I would be working for a church for the rest of my career.

A lot has changed. I’ve learned a lot of things. I’ve changed.

So have you. In the last five years, you’ve been through a lot, but you have learned through it. Your ways of looking at things have changed, revised, deepened, adjusted. Which gives us a little direction for the next five years.

Paul wrote this to the Philippian church:

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

It’s a prayer for growth of understanding and of love and of behavior. It’s a prayer where the answer would be measured in cumulative small change across a lifetime. The answer isn’t measured in someone getting well but in someone enduring for the sake of others. The answer isn’t measured this afternoon, but sometime. But the results may be discernible looking five years back and five years forward.

To write this post, I went back five years to see where my heart was, to see if there has been growth. And I read the post I wrote the morning after Pastor Clem Pinckney was murdered in a Bible study at church.

I had forgotten.

And so, I end this post like I ended that one:

But for now, I can only repeat the words of James.

“Is any of you suffering?” James asked. “Let him pray.”

With this addition: As Nehemiah said, “Our people have sinned, my tribe has sinned, I have sinned.”