‘Do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba… Seek the Lord and live.’ Amos 5:5–6 NIV
Bethel is where Jacob had his life-changing dream, and made a vow to God. Gilgal is where the Israelites camped after God miraculously parted the Jordan River and they stepped into the Promised Land for the first time. Beersheba is where Isaac dug a well and built an altar. All three places held special significance: they were sacred landmarks in Israel’s spiritual journey. So why would God tell them not to seek Him there? The answer is simple: you won’t find God in the past. His name is not The Great I Was, it’s The Great I Am.
The psalmist said, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’(Psalm 46:1 NIV) When we cling too tightly to what God did last, we often miss what God wants to do for us next. He is at work right here, right now. He is always doing something new. So go ahead and build altars and mark holy moments to the past, but the purpose of altars is to remind us of God’s faithfulness in the past so we can have faith to believe Him for the future. When we stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory, we start dying.
To be fully alive is to be fully present. It mandates leaving the past in the past. That’s why Paul wrote, ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13–14 NIV) So the word for you today is: press on!