Unresolved Part 3

Have you ever read Choose Your own Adventure books? I used to love these books because you were always the hero of the book, whether you would be a private investigator, mountain climber, race car driver, doctor, or spy. You would get a few pages in and you’d have to make a choice and depending on your choice you’d flip to a corresponding page and that would lead you after reading a bit more to another choice. Some of these books had up to 44 different outcomes to the story. Sometimes you would find the treasure, but, as this flowchart of Journey Under the Sea shows, most of the time you would just end up dead.


Not a Re-start, but a Re-solution

In real life you may not be hunted by the Abominable Snowman, but you are faced with decisions at every turn that radically affect the outcome of your story. When we find ourselves at page 51 and the choices we’ve made have put us between a rock and a hard place, what should we do? Because none of us have an impeccable past and we’re only a couple of bad choices away from disaster and we can’t restart at the Mayan Temple.

In 1 Samuel 12 Israel find themselves at the end of the age of the Judges and the beginning of the age of the Kings. The choices they had made that got them there weren’t all great ones. What did they need to know to start out on the right foot? That may be instructive as we begin a new calendar year.

A Hard Look at the Past

Samuel called all of Israel together to crown Saul and he said, “Here he is. You told me to set a king over you, now you got it, but this is a changing of the guard. I was your leader from when I was a child, but now I’m old and gray. Was I a good leader? Now that I’m handing off the torch, bring me your accusations and testify against me: Have I taken anything of value large or small? Have I cheated, oppressed, accepted a bribe? If I have, I’ll make it right.” The people said, “You haven’t done any of those things. You’ve been a great leader.” “You swear?” “We swear!” “Well then you’ve made a mistake by asking for a king. I present to you evidence number one: God gave you me and I’ve been a good leader.”

Then Samuel said, “I have an accusation against you: you did wrong to ask for a king. Because the LORD after Jacob entered Egypt, our ancestors cried to the Lord for help and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron who brought them up out of Egypt and settled them in this place. He did so good by you and your ancestors. I present to you evidence number two: Besides me, God gave you other great leaders who were more than adequate for the task.

Need more evidence that you shouldn’t have asked for a king? Well, even when they forgot the LORD and were by Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and the Philistines and Moab, conflict and defeat on every side. But when they cried out to the LORD and confessed and repented and asked for deliverance, the Lord their King had mercy on them and sent them leaders: Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he fought and won for you, and made you dwell in safety. I present to you evidence number three: even when you rejected God’s leadership before, he was still merciful to you.

So why on earth would you reject the Lord’s leadership? Because of the Ammonites? The Lord was your King, the best you could have asked for, but, that ship has sailed. Here’s your guy. Saul. He’s kind of a putz. But the rules are the same. Fear the Lord, serve and obey him and God will make things good for you. If you don’t, then he’ll make things go bad for you. Choose your own adventure.

What Now?

Israel was at page 51 and the choices they had made put them between a rock and a hard place. What should they do? They should choose this day to fear, serve and obey the Lord. Don’t overlook the past, learn from it!


This is one of the many great passages of the Bible that recalls what God has done for his people and calls his people to faithfulness as a response. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Stephen and others did the same thing. But why do they do it? Is it just to rub the bad decisions that they made in? I know that when people remind you of your past problems, it’s often to try to make you feel guilty, but not so with God. In the Bible, God reminds people of his perfection, even in light of people’s imperfection to help people own their issues, repent and recommit themselves to walking under the Lord’s leadership.

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Leaving the Past in the Past

So take an honest inventory of how you’ve done submitting to the Lord’s leadership in your past. How about your recent past, like this last year? Be honest. All of us could and should do better in 2019 than in 2018. However, reminding ourselves of the ways that we’ve fallen short or failed in the past is something that we don’t like to do because if we’ve not done well, we may feel bad and it’s a cardinal sin in our culture to make people feel bad. When did people become so weak that they can’t even be honest about themselves or say, “I was wrong”?

If we refuse to talk about the ways we were wrong because it might feel bad, we are guaranteeing that the bad will live on and continue. The legends said that in ancient Egypt Hathor had stalked Egypt in the form of a lioness and she had killed so many people that the sands of Egypt turned red. The gods only defeated her by mixing beer and honey and sleeping droughts and dying this concoction red so that she thought it was blood and she drank it and fell asleep. Ra, the father of the gods made her the goddess of love after that so the wounds she inflicted on people would now only be wounds of the heart. I hate that story, because why would the gods have done that? Why didn’t they just kill her when they had the chance? Don’t compromise with sin, call it what it is, kill it and leave your past in your past.

The Reason to Recall the Past is the Future

In the true story of 1st Samuel 12, it’s clear that the reason that the past was brought up was in order to better prepare for the future. Sammy said, “The rules are the same looking forward: fear, serve and obey the Lord and it’ll go well for you!” Recalling leads to re-calling. This was their moment to reup their commitment to the Lord, just like it’s time for us to reup our commitment as we’ve turned a new calendar page. You know what you did, but moving on from there, now what are you going to do with the fresh canvas, the new snow-covered landscape, the unspoiled possibility? Write me your resolutions!

[tweetshare tweet=”What will you do with the fresh canvas, the new snow-covered landscape, the unspoiled possibility?” username=”Jrothwilson”]

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