I am excited about history.
During the time I was in high school, we celebrated Negro History Week. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
James Baldwin once said, “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
There is a fascinating story found in Mark 5 of Jesus healing the demonic man in the country of the Gadarenes. The story draws to a close with the newly freed man asking Jesus if he could go with him.
Jesus says to him in verse 19 that he cannot come with him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”
While the text does not say Jesus gave him an outline for his story, I want to suggest a systematic approach to sharing your story even if it seems that few want to hear it.
First your story should look back. We should not be ashamed nor afraid to take a moment and look back where the Lord has brought us from.
The story of David and Goliath is an excellent example of why we need to remember the good and the bad of our history. David prepares to fight Goliath and says he was once in the paws of a lion and a bear.
In our African-American history, there have been some lions and bears and, as we look back, we should not try to deny our history, but rather acknowledge the good and the bad and say in the words of David, “But God …”
Secondly, your story should look around. I am grateful for Carter G. Woodson, who looked back and then looked around and said, “We are going back to that beautiul history, and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.”
This month, I am encouraging all Americans to look around and see that our past should not divide us, but should spur us to even greater achievements. Because David looked back and then looked around, he declared, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
I pray that all Americans will look back and say if our fathers could make it through the paws of slavery and segregation, we can take the head off the divisive rhetoric of this political season.
Finally, your story should look forward. Perhaps my greatest excitement comes from believing that America’s best days are yet to come.
As I followed the story of David I noted he looks back, he looks around and he looks forward and says, without qualifiers, “He (God) will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”
An accurate study of history will certainly help us see the good that the Lord has done for America. So in obedience to the command of Jesus, I am going to tell my story of what wonderful things the Lord has done for me.
Scott is pastor of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.