My wife Rosie and I have recently returned from a two week holiday in Scotland to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Such events tend to cause us to look back and consider the past years and the changes that have occurred during that time. For us there have been different jobs, ministry opportunities, churches, homes, groups of friends. There have been the passing of parents, colleagues and friends. There is also some photographic evidence to back all this up and when we look back at our wedding day photos (black and white!), well there is little change! – Until we put our glasses on (glasses, ah that’s another change since then), and yes there are some changes to the colour of our hairs and… well let’s leave it there. Ah, memories.
On the 5th of November we are encouraged to “remember, remember the 5th of November”. There are times when we are reminded to look back at an event. For example, this year we looked back at 90 years of Queen Elizabeth II.
It is good to remember and in Deuteronomy 8:1-2 we read these words:
“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
In these verses God speaks about:
The present: “follow every command I am giving you today”.
The future: “so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors”.
The past:“remember how the LORD you God led you all the way in the wilderness”.
It seems that remembering how the Lord has led and directed us in the past, is inextricably linked to how we relate to God now and obey him in the future
Of course we must be careful when remembering the past not to get caught up in reminiscing with a sentimentality that longs for those “good old days” again but to remember how God has led and how he has guided us through times of change.
If we look back with our eyes focused on the works and grace of God it will give us such hope, encouragement, strength and faith to go forward, willingness to change and be the kind of church that changes a nation.