Her assignment was to write a brief essay.  Being the involved parents that we were, we attended the open house and located her masterpiece in the jam-packed array on the walls of her third-grade classroom. 

Her teacher had highlighted one section that caught our attention.  At the end of a line, our daughter wrote, “I was very happy.”  At the beginning of the next line she wrote, “When I found out I was very happy.”

Hmm?  “I was very happy when I found out I was very happy!”   That’s wonderful – I guess. 

Obviously, she got to the end of the first line, lost her train of thought, and then tried to pick it up again without looking back.

A funny foible BUT also a reminder that there is a risk in forgetting what has already been written! 

In the days of Gideon, these words were recorded in Scripture, “And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side.” – Judges 8:34 (KJV)

Those Israelites had found themselves at a crossroads in their history. 

Their grandparents had made the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan.  They experienced God when the Red Sea parted and the manna rained down, and they knew that they were on the right road. 

Then their parents took possession of the promised land.   They watched the walls of Jericho crumble.  Once again, they experienced the power of God on their behalf.   The nation was on a blessed trajectory.

But that third generation, Gideon’s generation, they had forgotten the Lord and what He had done for His people in the past.  They lost their train of thought and started a new line that led them into the bowels of sin and idolatry.

It is the better part of wisdom to look back and remember the past as we wrestle to set the direction for the future.

My wife did that recently as we drove through the heart of Alabama to see the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement.  We traveled the streets of Montgomery where Rosa Parks courageously refused to give up her seat on the bus. 

We walked around the Dexter St. Baptist Church where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached while he patiently labored to dismantle the barriers that kept African Americans from voting.

From there we glanced up the steps of the nearby State House, where a blockade of state troopers had heartlessly turned away the petitioners. 

Then onto Selma where 600 men, women and children had gathered to walk the 56 miles to the state capital.  We drove across the notorious Edmund Pettus bridge where those genuinely peaceful protestors were brutally gassed and beaten by the state police.

As a kid in the mid 60’s, I remember watching this history unfold on the evening news.  It was awful.   

But – then I also remember that a little over 40 years later, our predominantly Anglo nation gave evidence that our character had meaningfully matured.  This country elected our first African American president.  

A person of color, once barred from voting, was voted into office – the highest office in the land.  Even those who voted for the other guy agreed that the election of President Barak Obama was a watershed – an extraordinarily proud moment for the USA. 

Wow!  God’s grace has carried us forward in some thrilling and significant ways. 

We have come so very far since Selma, but it’s not been a flawless journey.  There remains plenty of injustices to correct.  

As we face these challenges, we can’t forget what has already been written.

With the courage of Dr. King, Rosa Parks and so many other civil rights heroes, may we continue to vigorously protest and correct racial injustice and with the patience and wisdom of those same heroes and heroines may we do it with civility.  

A PRAYER: Lord please – please, continue to refine our flawed nation for our good and your glory