‘Appreciation’ Meditations No.28: Appreciating the Past
Deut 8:22“Remember how the Lord your God led you.”
As we draw nearer to the end of this series, I’m not going to keep on making ‘the goodness of God’ the continual focus but it is going to be there in the background and instead I want to try to paint the backdrop in which the goodness of God is revealed – the past, present and future.
The word ‘remember’ occurs 231 times in the Bible. That nudges us to realise afresh we have a past. It may sound very obvious because, in many ways, we are what we are in the present – today – because of all that has gone on in the past, but as with all these things they can be so obvious we take them for granted and need, from time to time, to pause up and reflect on them slowly.
Our starter verse is a reminder that Israel were constantly told to remember their past, a past with God. THAT was what made them what they were. They came from a man originally named Abram who had come from that area associated with the Garden of Eden. He had had a son who had two sons, one of whom had twelve sons (and a daughter) who became a famous nation, Israel. They had history so when God apprehended Moses at the burning bush, He was able to identify Himself as, “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Ex 3:6) Their history included an amazing Exodus and centuries later, an amazing Exile, but they were still there when the Son of God came, then went off into another exile, this time for millennia not just four hundred years, but they are still there today, still waiting for their (returning) Messiah. Oh yes, the past is important.
We remember birthdays and they remind us of who we are, where we’ve come from. In addition we remember our spiritual birthdays, the day when we first met Jesus. It was a turning point; we were never the same again. The past may have bad elements and those we just have to give over to the Lord, but much of it has been good and recounting it reaffirms who we are. When others have hurt us – and that simple word can cover a multitude of sins from simple criticism, physical or emotional abuse, through to rape – our memories replay over and over again that event that caused us such anguish. When we ourselves have failed in some way – and that word can include simple rash, hasty and unkind, hurtful words, or even acts of violence – memory can hold the guilt up before you continually. Then we take solace in, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 Jn 1:9) Yes, the past is a mix of good and bad but perhaps the important thing is how we have allowed it to bring us to the present. With God’s help it can all be worked to good (Rom 8:28). Let’s let Him do that.