"Except as We Shall Forget"

A look at the worker's study life.

By ARTHUR L. WHITE, Secretary, Ellen G. White Publications

It is a familiar sentence, but with growing  significance, that "we have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history."--"Life Sketches," p. 196.

Travelers we all are, bound for the Promised Land. Clear have been the evidences of di­vine guidance thus far. The Holy City looms up in the distance, but the path just before us seems perilous. Some, as we have moved along, have dropped off by the wayside. Something has been allowed to enter the life that has dimmed their great objective, and their feet have turned aside. Still others may fail to reach the cherished goal.

But, says our great Leader, "We have noth­ing to fear for the future"—"EXCEPT." What is the exception? "Except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us." Ad­ventists are a forward-looking people, but there are times when it is appropriate to look back—not fearfully to see if we should have taken some other path, or to make sure that the foundations are securely laid. No! No! But to gain strength and renewed confidence, through the clear assurance of the testimony of past experience, that truly this is God's work. He has led us, and He will lead us safely through the difficult days before us.

As Israel was about to enter the land of Canaan, Moses, their veteran visible leader, gathered the people about him. Realizing that he was to go no farther with them, he admon­ished the traveling hosts with words of assur­ance: "Remember the days of old." Deut. 32:7. The apostle Paul likewise, in an endeavor to maintain confidence, appeals, "Call to remembrance the former days." Heb. to: 32. Then to modern Israel nineteen centuries later, just about to cross the Jordan to the heavenly Canaan, the words resound, calling us to remember "the way the Lord has led us."

It seems most fitting then, just at this hour, when the future seems fraught with uncer­tainties, that the ministry of this people should pause to look back and catch an assuring glimpse of God's providential guidance and protection through the years. How fitting also that we should review this stirring story through the eyes of one of the actors as it is related in "Life Sketches of Ellen G. White." From year to year, in the Ministerial Reading Course, through the selection of a Spirit of prophecy volume, emphasis has been placed on "His teaching in our past history," which alike is a factor in guarding us in these peril­ous times; but it is no less essential that we review our history as a people. Repeatedly have leaders in the cause been admonished with the need of recounting the story of our past work. Note four brief statements:

"We must do as the Lord directed Moses to do. when the children of Israel, having crossed the desert, were encamped on the borders of Jordan. Moses was bidden to rehearse to them all the deal­ings of the Lord to them during their journeyings through the wilderness."—E. G. White Letter 105. 1903.

"There is a work of sacred importance for min­isters and people to do. They are to study the his­tory of the cause and people of God. They are not to forget the past dealing of God with His people." —E. G. White MS. 22, 1890.

"Those who enter the work at the present time know comparatively little of the self-denial and self-sacrifice of those upon whom the Lord laid the bur­den of His work at its beginning. The experience of the past should be told them again and again; for they are to carry forward the work with the same humility and self-sacrifice that characterized the true workers in the past."—E. G. White, in Re­view and Herald, June 3, 1902.

"If they [our pioneer workers] would recount the sacrifices made by those who led out in the work, and would keep before the people the simplicity of the early workers, and the power of God that was manifested to keep the work free from error and delusion and extravagance, they would have a mold­ing influence upon the workers at this time. When we lose sight of whaf the Lord has done in the past for His people, we lose sight of His present working in their behalf."—E. G. White MS. 23, 1899.

At this late date we occasionally find one who has lost sight of the Lord's providential leading, who queries, Is this God's people? Is this the true church, or do we look for another? The answer given by the Lord through His messenger calls attention to the past, and then reassures us:

"The Lord has declared that the history of the past shall be rehearsed as we enter upon the closing work. Every truth that He has given for these last days is to be proclaimed to the world. Every pillar that He has established is to be strengthened. We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth."—E. G. White, quoted in "Organiza­tion,” pp. 175, 176.

Let every worker in the cause of God, as he pauses now and then during the year 1941 to look back on our past history through the eyes of one who traveled the way of earlier years, gain strength and confidence and assur­ance, for, "we have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget" !


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By ARTHUR L. WHITE, Secretary, Ellen G. White Publications

January 1941

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