Another Look by David Faust
If you doubt the importance of personal choices, turn back the pages of the calendar and notice how decisions made in the past still affect us today. The world changed forever on September 11, 2001 when terrorists carried out their deadly plans using hijacked planes as weapons. In the 1980s interest rates soared, the Berlin Wall fell, and the borders of Europe were redrawn. In the 1970s the Iran hostage crisis and the Watergate scandal rattled American politics. The 1960s brought changing attitudes toward everything from music to sports to sex. The first half of the twentieth century encompassed both chaos and calm: the housing boom of the 50s, the Nazi atrocities of the 40s, the Great Depression of the 30s, the roaring optimism of the 20s, and the first World War.
The 1800s brought the tragedy of Civil War and the noble leadership of Lincoln. Two men named Charles published influential books in the same year (1859): Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In religion the nineteenth century spawned everything from the Cane Ridge Revival to the beginning of Mormonism, from the misguided promises of Millerites who said the Lord would return in 1843 to the misguided voices of liberal scholars who cast doubt on the reliability of Scripture and the historicity of Jesus. The 1700s saw the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the consummation of political revolution when American visionaries sacrificed their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to establish a new nation conceived in liberty.
Turn back the calendar a few more generations and notice God’s hand at work through reformers and Bible translators who dared to challenge a politically powerful but spiritually stagnant church. Read in the pages of history about persecuted Christians who followed the Lord at the cost of their lives, convinced they would receive the crown of life if they were faithful till death (Revelation 2:10).
Turn to the book of Acts and marvel at the way the gospel penetrated boundaries of race, language, and culture. God’s people frequently stood at a crossroads then: Peter at the home of Cornelius, Saul on the road to Damascus, Philip in the water baptizing an Ethiopian, Stephen speaking truth while his listeners picked up stones.
Go back a few more chapters and you literally come to a crossroad. The road to Calvary led to history’s defining moment. In the aftermath of the cross came the transforming power of the resurrection. Leading up to the cross were Jesus’ transformational teaching and miracles, his unwavering devotion to the Father, his patient love for the disciples.
Turn back a few more pages and you come to a scene that seemed unlikely to make the history books. A humble family huddled together at an overcrowded inn, scarcely comprehending how “the hopes and fears of all the years” met in the little town of Bethlehem on that holy night.
History is at a crossroads now, and it was at a crossroads then, though many didn’t see it then and many don’t see it now. History’s turning points aren’t found in the headline stories, but in the simple things. A mother’s arms. A manger bed. A baby’s cry.
Then as now, God was fulfilling his purpose and plan. Then as now, humanity’s story changed forever because someone dared to say as Joshua did, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”