North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

When I worked for the Poarch Creek Indians in Alabama I was the Wellness and Activities Director. It fascinated me to learn their culture and history. Each week was a learning experience. And I especially enjoyed the Summer Education Program where the children were taught their native language and other facts about their culture. I did my own research and taught them the recreational games their ancestors played for fun hundreds of years ago.
Wise proverbs and sayings have been passed down through the years by different Native American Tribes. One in particular I have always remembered says: “Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength. Looking within I discover peace.” All of life and living well can be wrapped up in these four (4) sentences.
Successful living requires that our hearts and minds work in tandem with one another. Any contradiction between the two will lead to missteps and self-induced stress. But there’s a solution and answer for this troubling state—it’s found in the Peace of God. The Bible says, “The Peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). If there be anything that can purify the heart, cleanse the mind, and set in motion the abundant life, it’s worth pursuing. There is a positively motivating process in which you and I can choose to incorporate into our own lives. If followed, it can make your existence more fulfilling and satisfying. It can also make you into a person others will want to be around because of the radiant energy the Holy Spirit gives.
Let’s reflect on this process and the four (4) parts of this Native American proverb about life.
1) “Looking behind I am filled with gratitude…” This means you are to rejoice with thanksgiving and praise. I believe many people flounder in their spiritual lives because they don’t praise God as they should. No matter where you are, what’s going on, or what you’re waiting on to take place, your task is to walk, work, and worship with gratitude and thanksgiving. It’s a principle of God that says you will garner success in living the Christian life. Psalm 113:2-3 says, “Let the name of the Lord be honored, now and forever. The name of the Lord is to be praised from the time the sun rises to when it sets.” Similar instructions are given in the New Testament Scripture of Phil. 4:4: “Be full of joy always because you belong to the Lord. Again I say rejoice.”
2) “Looking forward I am filled with vision…” We get caught up in the temporal mind set of the world and we get so selfishly motivated we fail to recognize God’s presence. The world’s vision is temporal, but God’s vision is spiritual and eternal. Phil 4:5 says, “…the Lord is coming again soon.” God knows the future and He shares great and mighty things to those who are totally committed to him (Jer. 33:3). Success is in your future when you recognize God’s presence and seek to include Him at home, at school, at church, at work, and at play.
3) “Looking upward I am filled with strength…” When I read this I’m reminded of the scripture. “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord” (Psalm 121:1-2). In your quest for spiritual success, strive in your own strength and you’ll come up short. Take everything to God. Prayer activates your faith and brings victory (1 John 5:4).
4) “Looking within I discover peace…” The present generation in which we live is a peace-deprived people—by no fault of their own. The only peace that lasts, and you don’t have to struggle to obtain it, is available through Christ. You can receive God’s peace by accepting it. There’s no strife needed in trying to obtain it; only a willful surrender of your life to God and His ways. Jesus says, “My peace I give unto you…” (John 14:27).
The underlying issue in life is the pursuit of peace. And unless you’re under self-control it will always elude you. We act according to feelings most of our life. Inspired by the strength and wisdom of God, peace comes with a surrendered life. So often, the very thing our carnal selves wants to hold onto—life without limits, pushes peace further away. Therefore, plant and cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit: (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control; Galatians 5:22-23). The Bible says, “If the Holy Spirit is living in us, let us be led by Him in all things …those who follow this way will have God’s peace and loving-kindness” (Gal. 5:25; 6:16).
“Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength. Looking within I discover peace.” This simple formula for life carries with it the keys to victory, success, and a well-lived life. When all others fail about you; find Jesus to be your greatest and most loyal friend. Tell it to Jesus, Tell it to Jesus…Tell it to Jesus alone! Find a church to grow in your faith, attend it faithfully, and follow God in all your ways.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Sep 8 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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