Thursday, April 8, 2010

The importance of a good biography

Good morning friends. There is nothing more enjoyable than a good biography. To read of the lives of the saints who have gone on before us is an incredible experience, like looking through a window into the past. There is so much to learn from those who have walked this same path before us yet so many of the lessons they have learned are forgotten or set aside. Like for much of history, we fail to learn from the lessons others have experienced and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. The writer of Hebrews cautions us, that we should consider those who have gone before us:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:7-8)

The fact is that there is nothing new under the sun. Things may be packaged a little differently but it comes down to the same thing. We are not the first to experience the things we have faced in our lives and there are plenty of examples of how people faced the same challenges we face and yet overcame them. Great examples of faith have been established for us to learn from and by which to be encouraged. There have been so many times that I have found encouragement to press on from biographies of giants and lesser giants of the faith. Hudson Taylor has set for me an example of perseverance; George Muller, an example of God's provision in the face of faith; William Wilberforce, an example of the difference one man can make. Of course there is a very long list of saints and there is more than one lesson from each life.

What is truly important from these examples is this:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

What these heroes of the faith received from the Lord I can receive as well today because Jesus and his promises never change. What was available to the disciples 2000 years ago is available to me today. What John Bunyan was able to do 400 years ago I am able to do today because our strength is the same source of power and love. Jesus will provide for me no less than he has provided for everyone else who has gone before me. His love for me is as great as it was for them. His mission for me is the same as it was for them. All of his promises are applied to me in the same manner they were applied to them. Everything they accomplished I too may accomplish by keeping my eyes on Jesus and trusting him for everything.

I encourage you then to add one or two biographies to your reading list this month. Regardless of what you are facing you will find encouragement in what Jesus has done in the lives of the saints who have walked this path before us. It is amazing how some of their life-stories help put things into perspective and can open your eyes to the complexities of God's weaving of his plan through our lives. Reading of these saints will help you to understand that you are part of something so much bigger than you can see from your vantage point right now. Who knows, in 50 years from now they could be writing about our lives to encourage others with what Jesus accomplished through us. Perhaps they will be imitating our faith, if we press on.

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