Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsFriday 12 Jun 2020Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
Some people believe the past is the past: Why do you go digging around in the past? Leave it alone, just get on with life, don’t worry about yesterday.
And then there are other people who live in the past. They just delight in dragging up the past events of their life and all they miss out often on the present time—no preparation for the future.
So I’m quite sure that the past does matter. It’s very powerful. Each of us have got a past. We are very different, of course, to each other. But having a past is something we’ve got in common. And sometimes stuff happens in the past that we prefer not to think about or talk about, and we may have learned ways even to block it out.
Dealing With Painful Past Experiences
So what is in the past? Lots of things: choices, events, responses, attitudes, desires, feelings, beliefs and many more—and each of these affect the routine of life today, even if we’re not sort of consciously thinking about them. And it seems that many people let the past drag them down—the feelings of anger or despair, failure or guilt. We’re all influenced by the past and sometimes you should really put the past at rest, or at least sort out what needs to be discarded. It might not be easy but it can save you from further unhappiness or confusion.
There’s an Arab proverb that states you should write the bad things that happened to you down in the sand, so they can be easily erased from your memory. But most of us engrave the bad things that happen in marble and painful memories remain stuck in our minds.
Yes, there’s a lot of unfairness—horrible things happening in our world. Like an old person who’s walking along the street and gets bashed or mugged. It’s such a stupid, traumatic, selfish event—and against the law. An innocent person is hurt.
So how does this person, the older man or lady, process this event? It certainly will be remembered—it wasn’t their fault. How are they going to process the ugliness of that attack? I’m not really sure. And there are, of course, all the people who never get over an accident like that—and others learn to forgive.
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And it can be God’s grace that allows such an act of mercy and kindness to happen. And a very courageous person, almost a wow moment, that says, I’m safe in the hands of God—whatever happens, even if I’m unfairly attacked, it was not my fault. But I give my life and my future into God’s hands and I pray for his protection to look after me. Maybe that’s a better way of handling it.
Finding Rest From Our Past
There must be ways for us to be thankful for the past, without it actually taking over our lives. Our yesterdays can be powerful stimulators to improve life today. You remember the old saying, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. There’s so much about the past that you can do nothing about—if you were only a child who didn’t have enough information. But you can learn, if you’re an adult, you learn from the past.
And what about the deep shame that some people carry with them? Often it’s a secret that lies buried for years. We hide sometimes behind computers and phones and newspapers and magazines, or fashion or education or career or Facebook or being busy. We protect ourselves, actually, by telling lies, by trying to be funny, or we become introverts trying to cover up the past.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 – NIV)
Then how often have you done something that you’re ashamed of and been overwhelmed with grief and carry that burden around with you for weeks or even years? We feel we’re second class people. It can be actually a soul-destroying event. Then there are those who do other things like overeating or just lock themselves up, and don’t go out anywhere. And perhaps that’s why, like the Apostle Paul, you might say, Who can deliver me from this? How can I be free from the shame that I’ve carried for years?
And the answer that the Apostle Paul found was, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 – NIV)
So don’t get lost in despair. “Keep on believing”, Jesus said, “Keep on believing and trusting in me.”
Thank you, Lord, we know that words are very powerful. And with you, you can heal the shame from the past and release us to enjoy life today.