Do you remember the show 'This Is Your Life'? If you're 25 or over you probably will. It was the show when an unsuspecting celebrity was accosted by Eammon Andrews (and later David Nixon and then Michael Aspel) and drawn into a TV studio in front of an audience, and made to endure a public retelling of their life via 'surprise' guests who would churn up memories from their pre-celebrity lives. It was quite an institution of British television – who was it going to be this week? At the end of every show the celebrity was presented with the Big Red Book which was full of 'their life'….and that got me thinking yesterday as I was reading the big book all about my life…
You see 'This Is Your Life' was concerned with only one thing – looking backwards. Nostalgia. Past regrets. Former glories. Looking back bothers me.
I had a friend at university who was obsessed with his past and explaining his 'present' by examining the mistakes he had made years and years ago. We would talk and joke together but my word of wisdom to him was that if he kept looking back, with his head turned looking over his shoulders, he would never go forwards, he would only move in circles trudging over and over and over the same old, same old.
I have lots of nice memories and I do enjoy the occasional reminisce – but I can't live like that. I am a part of a Kingdom that is advancing and it is vital that, rather than take a selfish easy option and stay in the past, I lay hold of it and be forceful in doing so. Sometimes you have to be violent to break into the new of God, especially if you've let yourself be chained up for some time.
Last night I was reading Deuteronomy 32 from my book of life, the Bible. Here's what I read:
Deut 32:46-47 " (Moses) said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
Moses was referring to a song he sang in front of all of Israel (you can read it in Deut 32) all about their history and God's might and His promise for their future! But whereas Eammon Andrews' book was all about looking back, our book of Life is all about going forward! Again it says: "They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
Crossing to possess!
That's forward talk! That's momentum. That's taking action. That's not walking in circles, it's breaking through, crossing boundary lines into the new of God!
As we read the Word of God (and we must read more and more) we need to read from a point of – "if I take this to my heart, I will go forward in God!" It's one of those Kingdom paradoxes that even by looking at our Biblical history we move forward in God!
Proverbs 4:20-22 says: "My Son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body."
So today's encouragement, as Moses said – take to heart all of the Word! "They are not just idle words for you – they are your life." Hallelujah! Whatever we read, it propels us forward in the things of God. Tony Ling once said that we must read our Bibles expecting to find Jesus on every page.
Let me leave you with the first 4 verses of Deuteronomy 32. This is Your Life, from our history, into our today, to take us into our great futures with God.
1 Listen, O heavens, and I will speak;
hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 Let my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.
3I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.