Leaving the Past

coffee_cup_4.jpgI’m back at the Murfreesboro Panera Bread this morning.  I came here to spend an hour or so working on the message for Sunday.  (I’ve learned that when I am on a trip like this, it is much more enjoyable if I can spend a few early mornings during the week thinking about Sunday’s message.  Makes the rest of the week more enjoyable.)

While away, I have also done some reading in preparation for a preaching conference next week in Kerrville, Texas.   There are seven books to be covered in this conference.  One of these is Elie Wiesel’s Night.  One evening, I had trouble sleeping at my mother-in-law’s house, and so I decided to read for a while.  I picked up Night and read the entire book.  I must have been out of my mind to read this and expect to go to sleep afterward.  A disturbing, sad, troubling book written by an eyewitness of the Holocaust.  An important book — but better read when one does not want to sleep afterward.

Meanwhile, I really am trying to pay attention to the present.  But, this isn’t the easiest thing to do.  Sometimes the past and future can become all too consuming. 

I like these words penned by Peggy Noonan about former President Gerald Ford:

 … Ford seemed happy when things turned out well for America. That was apparently his primary interest.

He seemed lacking in vanity. There
is no evidence that he was obsessed with his legacy. He didn’t worry
and fret about whether history would fully capture and proclaim his
excellence, and because of this he didn’t always have to run around
proving he was right. He just did his best and kept walking.  What a
grown-up thing to do.  Former, current and future presidents would do
well to ponder this approach. History would treat them more kindly. The
legacy of a man who spends his time worrying about his legacy is
always: He worried about his legacy.

Men and women don’t deal with the future by worrying about their legacy.  They deal with the future by doing what is most important in the present moment. 

And my past?  Well, my past can really impact the way I see and experience the present.  What I am facing in the present might be the consequence of a choice or decision made in the past.  The impact of some of those decisions may be quite small.  Perhaps you made other decisions that were actually quite monumental.  So what do we do with the past?

The past is out of my control.  I can’t go back and undo bad decisions.  I can’t return to the past and rewrite my life.  What I can do is learn from my life.  Most importantly, I can leave the past in Jesus’ hands.  The cross and resurrection are big enough to redeem any sin, failure, blunder, etc. 

Can you relate to this at all?  Do you ever find yourself just totally consumed by what happened in the past?  Do you ever find yourself giving more power and energy to the past instead of releasing it to the one who is able to handle this?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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14 thoughts on “Leaving the Past

  1. A good quote from Bonhoeffer:<br>“The whole of the past is embraced by the word ‘forgiveness’; the whole
    of the future is preserved in the faithfulness of God. Past sin has
    been sunk in the depths of God’s love in Jesus Christ and overcome; the
    future will be, without sin, a life born of God (I John 3:9)." <i>Ethics</i>, p. 147<br>James

  2. What a great thought this morning. What Peggy Noonan said about President Ford is so true. He seeemed like such a gentleman.
    Thanks for your words about the past. Unfortunately, I seem to always beat myself over the head about my past. I am so thankful for grace and forgiveness but at times I let the enemy rob me of that knowledge. I am working on it.

  3. Jim, I have a feeling you did not sleep any better after having read Night either.  Few books in the English language are as haunting as that.  The images it uploads to your mind are not ones conducive to sleep … sorrow and perhaps even repentance … but not sleep.  If you need a better sleep aid let me recommend Kindom Come, I hear it works good, 🙂
    Bobby Valentine

  4. Jim: I chuckled a little when you mentioned reading Wiesel’s book when you could not sleep. I did the same thing many years ago in seminary. It is a book I wish everyone would read, but you are right that it is not bedtime material. Good comments about the late President Ford. Thanks!

  5. Recently someone told me that the power of what is behind us is so much greater than the fear that lies ahead. The past is already lived through and can be used to move forward. Trust in God that we have made it through takes away the fear of what lies ahead.
    Enjoy your posts…

  6. John,Thanks.  Most of the tornadoes were around Waco but not where we live.  We were out of town that week and so missed most the weather entirely.Thanks for your concern. 

  7. Allan,Good to hear that I am not the only one that had the same experience with Night.  :)It is a book that ought to be read by everyone.  Very sobering.

  8. Bobby,Thanks for the suggestion regarding good material to help one go to sleep.  Not so regarding your book.Thanks– 🙂 

  9. I can relate, especially about the immediate past. You and I were within shouting distance this past week (I was in north Coffee County, just southeast of Murfreesboro), and we could have met ftf for a coffee and bagels at Panera. Oh well, maybe next year. Peace.