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It’s a bad habit, I admit, but I read several books at the same time. Some I read steadily until I finish them, others … I pick them up and read a few pages at a time.

And these are the books which usually amaze me the most as they bring a thought at just the right time.

I have no idea when I began reading Eugene Peterson’s, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction“, but I do know it has been several months now. Picking it up this morning, I read:

Memory is a databank we use to evaluate our position and make decisions …

A Christian who has David in his bones, Jeremiah in his bloodstream, Paul in his fingertips and Christ in his heart will know how much and how little value to put on his own momentary feelings and the experience of the past week.

(from page 167)

We need the full counsel of God’s Word – both the Old and the New Testament, by which we gain wisdom and knowledge in order to live today.

Scripture itself tells us why it is vital to know the stories of those who have gone before us:

“Now these things happened to them as an example and warning [to us]; they were written for our instruction [to admonish and equip us], upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11, AMP)

Their stories serve as examples to us yet on the journey of life. The word example simply means “a pattern or model, as of something to be imitated or avoided” (

Looking Back

By looking back into their lives we can come to understand how to live today. We gain understanding as to what works and what does not. We learn the qualities to gain and the character we are to develop, while also learning those we do not want to permit to develop in our lives.

By looking back over our own lives, past choices and decisions, we can begin to identify where we have erred so as to avoid repeating those same mistakes.

Repeated mistakes form cycles in our lives which can lead to a life of defeat. Looking back and learning from the examples seen in Scripture and in our own lives can keep those cycles from beginning, or break those cycles already begun.

Looking Forward

Eugene Peterson further explains the wisdom in looking back:

“Not only is it a solid foundation for the past, it is a daring leap into the future.”

(from page 168)

As we look back, we gain courage and a boldness to move forward. We regain our sense of adventure as we anticipate what is yet to come.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.” (Romans 15:4, AMP)

Their stories fill us with hope and overflowing confidence God will keep His promises.

We need an acute memory of the past and
overflowing confidence in God’s promises.


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