I Look Not Back (Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod Hymnal, 218)
1 I look not back; God know the fruitless efforts,
the wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets.
I leave them all with God who blots the record,
and graciously forgives, and then forgets.
2 I look not forward; God sees all the future,
the road that, short or long, will lead me home.
And God will face with me its every trial,
and bear for me the burdens that may come.
3 I look not round me; then would fears assail me,
so wild the tumult of earth’s restless seas,
so dark the world, so filled with woe and evil,
so vain the hope of comfort and of ease.
4 I look not inward; that would make me wretched;
for I have naught on which to stay my trust.
Nothing I see save failures and shortcomings,
and weak endeavors, crumbling into dust.
5 But I look up—into the face of Jesus,
for there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled;
And there is joy, and love, and light for darkness,
and perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled.
Author: Annie Johnson Flint
Tune: Oskar Ahnfelt
In 1842, a young lay preacher named Carl Rosenius began a revival movement within the Church of Sweden. Rosenius advocated a faith in Christ that was “of the heart” as well as “of the mind” and that it should be visible to others by good works. Many of the Swedes who emigrated to America in that era were influenced by Rosenius, and the marks of their tradition were personal piety, dignified worship, and social consciousness—themes we have seen throughout our readings this past week.
Rosenius’ message was given wings by the music of Oskar Ahnfelt in hymns such as this one. Read it in the light of the story of Zacchaeus, who was yearning to “see Jesus.”
Lord God, as I search for meaning and purpose in my life, remind me to look in the proper direction—not back, forward, around, or inward, but into the face of Jesus. May his joy, love, light, and peace fill my heart this day. Amen.