Perspective opens our eyes to see God’s artistry in creation and in our lives. In my entry hangs an enlarged black and white photo of a singular rose with dew drops-embodying the freshness of morning. In contrast to this close up, I was awed last night by the wild array of brilliant color seemingly corralled by a darkened skyline. Enjoying the sunset’s vast panorama, I noticed few details. Perspective determines what we are able to see in creation and in our own lives as well.
To tell our story, especially God’s role in our story, requires a sort of life review . . . remembering and considering the seasons we have enjoyed or endured. As we walked through those seasons, events and relationships were up close and personal . . . much like a macro lens. In those moments, we could describe the emotion, swirl in the chaos, and feel the hurt or the joy intensely. Looking back, however, we often experience a whole new perspective—more like that of a wide angle lens. We may now identify how we set ourselves up to be disappointed or to fail; realize anew the support we received from others, or recognize how God did protect, support and comfort us . . . even use evil for good (Genesis 50:20). Perspective opens our hearts to see God’s purposeful artistry in our own lives.
During such a life review, you may very well uncover a wealth of insightful reflection and a new awareness of God’s purposes in your difficulties. One pastor, Ron Frost, asked his congregation, How many of you have lived long enough to see Romans 8:28 played out in your lives? Sitting in the Mezzanine, I looked out over the congregation of about 1500 people to see many hands raised up. Pastor Ron then observed that most of those who raised their hands had grey hair! His point was that the wide angle lens, the long view, is one of the sweet benefits of longevity (Proverbs 3:16).
You may or may not have grandchildren asking for your memoirs. Reviewing your timeline with your heavenly Father, asking Him to give you new understanding of the message He is illustrating in your particular life, is a growth producing, faith building experience worth the time and effort—with or without a prospective audience. Do it for yourself.
FOR YOUR PEOPLE
I am my family’s historian. As the oldest and the one who loves to write, it naturally fell to me to collect and pen our family’s stories. In the process of discovering our unique history, I developed an early empathy for parental opinions I didn’t agree with. For example, learning that both sets of grandparents moved repeatedly in the Depression years to follow work enabled me to understand why my parents insisted on owning their home and staying put. In my teen years, it soothed my soul a bit to know my parents didn’t particularly like the life-altering decisions my grandparents had made anymore than I liked theirs.
Much later in life, I traced our roots back as far as the documentation goes within the United States. Even so, many questions remain. Facts do not tell me why our Southern ancestors fought for the Union army! Was it a matter of belief in the equality of all people or economic prejudice against large plantation owners? It was an expensive decision—no adult males survived the war. What was it was like for the surviving widows to collect a Union pension from a post office in the hills of Alabama? I will not know this side of heaven.
How I would treasure the life story of one of these ancestors . . . especially that of a believer pointing out God’s hand of blessing. God promises to bless our descendants to a thousand generations (Exodus 20:6) . . . imagine being able to read such a faith heritage about your own family! You and I can re-start this faith tradition by chronicling what God has done in our lives and passing on the story of our journeys to our people.
How can we pray and ask for God’s help today when we do not credit Him for what He has done just yesterday? Beyond personal revelation and growth, beyond gifting those who love and care about you, sharing what God has done—honors Him. Relating God’s role in our story is actually an act of obedience, giving credit where credit is due.
As Stu Weber shares so passionately in the HERITAGE Video, ZACHAR, the Hebrew word for REMEMBER, is a command repeated often in the Bible (Psalm 78:1-8). God commands us to remember what He has done for us and to tell our children. Although it is an excellent practice, nowhere in the entire Bible does it say to take them to Sunday School. Rather, we are commanded over and over to honor God by sharing with our kiddos what He has done for us.
One benefit of writing out our story is that we are preserving it for the teachable moment, the time when our descendants are no longer bored with us, disinterested, or “parent/grandparent deaf.” We are not being egotistical but honoring and realistic in assuming we will not always be here. Some families enjoy inter-generational fellowship all along the way. Others endure seasons of estrangement and minimal communication. Writing out our story is not only obedient to God, it exhibits our faith in His promises that our prodigals will find their way back home to Him and someday be interested in their heritage. Writing your story honors God for what He has done in your past and who you know Him to be now, but it is also an act of faith that you will have hungry readers in the future. Let us all ZACHAR and write our stories for God and His purposes.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. NLT Genesis 50:20
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. NKJV Romans 8:28
Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. Proverbs 3:15-16
But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. Exodus 20:6
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. ESV Psalm 78:1-8