Read Jeremiah 29:10-14
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (NLT)
Many of us long to make a fresh start, to clean up the mess, to do better in future. But we can’t do that by rewriting the past. We have to own our personal histories. We can’t change how we were raised or our schooling or our career choices. We do well to embrace what C. S. Lewis said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
Our future starts now. We can rebuild on old ruins. We can bring our faults and failings with us and trust our God will not despise them but somehow redeem them. Our God is the God of the second chance and many other chances.
Which is what God was promising the Israelites after their exile in Babylon. Their world had caved in but there was hope for them. They may have abandoned God but he hadn’t abandoned them. Their past was history, but they had a future.
We may regret our past, we may wish it were different. But God bids us not to look over our shoulder but to look ahead. While we can’t rewrite our past, we can ask God to help us write a new future.