I have a sermon in my library by G. Campbell Morgan called The Deuteronomy Pause. The last act of leadership Moses would execute, at the age of 120, was to appear in front of an entire generation (all under the age of 40). This generation would do what the first generation –their fathers—had failed to do; they would enter into the promised possession. They were sitting on go. They were eager to move. They were passionate about the future –their New Year. Life for them was all about forward momentum.
God brought all of that to a seven day pause, and what came out of that pause for us is the book of Deuteronomy. The book breaks down quite naturally into three movements. Morgan describes those movements as: 1) The backward look; 2) The inward look; and 3) The forward look. His point was, I think, that without understanding where you have been you cannot understand where you are or what you have become; and if you do not know where you have been and what you have becomeyou cannot possibly know where you are going.
The Deuteronomy pause, then, is about history but not history for the sake of history; it’s about history for the sake of the future—the past pregnant with the present and beyond. I can see no further into the future than my willingness to look into the past. Denial of what has been is the fastest way to compromise what is yet to be.
January 2012—a New Year—and I look forward, but this forward look is disciplined, shaped and directed by reflection upon what has been.
For whatever reason, and I think for good reason, the particular aspect of what has been that fills my reflection is a handful of teachers, mentors and fathers who moved across my life and left a part of their life in the process. I am at this moment the collective composite of all they imparted into my very soul. That impartation was not arbitrary, imposed or legalistic. For the most part it was an unconscious happening on both ends of the process. It was not defined by title, office, position or any label. It was the irresistible and inevitable consequence of relationship; that consequence being influence.
I love reading biographies; the stories of significance centred in significant personalities. I noticed early on, however, that these records of significant people were filled with the names of those of whom no biography will ever be written.I cannot help but ponder how the story of the central figure would read if all these other names were removed from the page. It seems to me that both the story and the central figure would be greatly diminished.
I recall with much affection those who brushed by my life and imparted something in their going. Some of those seasons of relationship lasted many years. Others were much abbreviated; they were like a tiny pebble tossed into a body of water. Only to the most discerning eye were the ripples of their influence noticeable. Only with age have I come to understand the mark they left.
God bless them all. Those who have graduated this sphere of time, I honour their memory. Those who still remain, I rejoice in their remaining.
But should I name them? I think not. To do so would be to list only those few who were dominate in my past. It would require a great deal of time to record all the others who touched me and hurried on their way.
And so, knowing who they are and God knowing who they are I move on into this New Year. I carry them with me, not like a piece of materialism that one might carry in his pocket or hand—it is so much more than that. It is the soul I have become and am—the soul shaped and fashioned and transformed one impartation at a time within the context of real relationship.