Sunday, February 20, 2011

Making History

In all of time, there is only the past, the present, and the future. With the past behind us and the future ahead, what remains is the present, the time machinery that turns the future into the past one moment at a time. The present is a wee crux of time that slips ever quickly into the past. And then that moment is past, and now this one. And another one. It won't be caught, stopped or even slowed. The present is fleeting; and the past keeps growing vast.

It may be history, but it's important because it's the basis for how we understand the present.

When I see 911, I think of an emergency call. If my grandmother had seen the same configuration of numbers in 1950, she would think only of the number nine hundred eleven. But if she said that number aloud as "nine eleven" anytime after the year 2001, it would conjure images of terrorist attacks. Those three numbers have three distinct meanings determined by historical perspective.

We understand the present based on the past and what we know of it. That's why God tells us what to remember and what things to forget.

  • God had Joshua build a pillar of twelve stones on the far side of the Jordan as a memorial, to remember that God allowed Israel to cross on dry ground. (Joshua 4)
  • They ate the Passover meal annually to remember the passing over of the death angel to spare the sons of Israel. (Exodus 12)
  • Love does not keep a record of wrong. (1 Corinthians 13)
  • I count all things as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus...forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.... (Philippians 3)

It's important to get these things right. They cause us to understand our present...or misunderstand it, as the case may be. If we forget what God says to remember and remember what God says to forget, we taint our view of history. And a tainted history skews our meaning of life, our very identity, and the wisdom gleaned from that tainted past with which we approach the future. There's an awful lot hinging on that wee crux.

Further, my smaller story of me feeds into God's larger story of all time. If I view my own life through my near-sighted lens of egocentricity, I can't make out the larger, farther-away story, the one that's God-centered. Eve did this in the Garden. It had some drastic consequences, and there's a host of others recorded in the Word for our warning.

What I desperately need in order for this not to be my experience is the lens of faith. That's what all those people in Hebrews chapter eleven had. They had faith to be far-sighted. They let themselves fall out of their own focus in order to gaze upon God. I want to do that.

I want my life to be caught up in the glory of God's larger story.
I want my present to bleed into His past.
I want my story to become His story.
And I want to make history.

This is a reflection on "History: Whose Story," Truth Project, Tour Six because I want to take what I hear on Sunday and live it out on Monday.

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