History serves little purpose it seems to me if not to teach and inform us about how to deal with the present age and to inspire us to prepare for and pursue a greater future. I say that as one who loves history, or more correctly loves old stories of the past as evidenced so often in these writings. While I do find myself amused by stories about the past, I also believe more than anything that they are the best source – if not the only source – for teaching us life’s most valuable lessons. It is for that very reason that we maintain historical facts and stories, otherwise we risk allowing them to become nothing more than the clutter in our attics collecting dust. In other words, do we preserve history as a means of moving us forward, or do we hang on to it simply to linger in the past?
We came face to face with that very question last week when in the process of unpacking boxes in our new home we came across two beautiful specially designed commemorative plates that had once adorned the walls of my parent’s home. Sentimental though they are to me, they’re really part of my parents’ story, not my own, besides the fact that there is no place for them in our home except to be stored in the attic. What to do? Then a pastor friend reminded us of the Biblical story of the Transfiguration when Peter, James and John ascended the mountain with Jesus and witnessed him in his glory. So overcome were they that Peter suggested they should stay there, but Jesus demanded that they return; for to have stayed would not have carried the “story” forward.
Would hanging on to those commemorative plates really benefit our lives and the lives of others moving forward, or would we simply be clinging to by-gone days? Pondering that question did not take long after what the pastor said. Soon it was settled, the plates should go.
Had Peter, James and John remained on the mountain the world might have been deprived the message of the Gospel. But through them it lived on. Likewise, had we clung to those plates they would have simply collected dust in the attic. Instead the lessons learned from my parents’ story will pass on through our own living, and that’s what really matters.