30 Aug A Message that Bears Repeating
“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. (1 Samuel 12:20–22)
I love to read history books as an adult; but when I was a kid, I hated history class, unless the teacher was talking about battles. I didn’t care who the president was during the Great Depression or who the first Holy Roman Emperor was. Give me lightsabers and magic spells, not Puritans and the Mayflower Compact!
But, Philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” History has important lessons to teach us if we are willing to listen.
That’s why the prophet Samuel’s final sermon was, essentially, a history lesson. He reminded God’s People how often they had rebelled against God. It certainly wasn’t pleasant to hear but it needed to be said. However, Samuel did not stop there. He also reminded the people how Faithful God had been and would continue to be.
We all have terminally short memories. Because of our inherent self-deception, we regularly forget just how hopelessly sinful we are by nature. Even a criminal on death row can find someone worse than he and justify himself. On the other hand, because of our weakness, we regularly forget just how much God loves us. No matter how strong your faith, you will question God’s care and forgiveness.
This is why we need regular spiritual history lessons to evoke repentance and renewal in our daily lives. I need to be reminded regularly how often I have turned away from the Lord for useless idols—trying to find my identity in what I’ve accomplished and what people think of me. I need to repent regularly of the evil that I have and the good that I have left undone. At the same time, I need to be reminded regularly that God “was pleased to make me his own” and that he will never reject me, his baptized child.
Prayer: Lord, my history is littered with sin and folly, but it is also blanketed with your mercy. Today, I repent again and ask for the assurance of your forgiveness. Remind me that you were pleased to make me your own and give me grace and wisdom to honor you today and into the future through Jesus Christ, my Savior! Amen.