Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Putting the "past" into perspective

Remembering our history might just give us a moment to pause.  Some of what may be there might just not be something we are very delighted to remember.  I think there is much to memory - most of it is pretty "okay" - but there is some of our "history" we'd all like to forget.  When it comes to our "family tree", there are probably some "Charlie Brown Christmas Trees" in the mix - you know - the ones kind of scraggly and just kind of like the ones we'd probably rather reject than own up to!  Yet, even though they don't "fit" like the rest of us, we cannot discount their importance in our family tree.  The most unlikely candidates have a place in our history - no particular action or characteristic we can deny or discount.  For all we know, they hold a place in our history just so we can look back and be warned about what could so easily entrap us in the same behavior.  In this respect, we'd do well to consider even their "negative influence" as part of a "positive influence" on us today!
Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.  The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.  (I Corinthians 10:1-6 MSG)
Heaven knows, I was not the perfect spouse.  I certainly wasn't the "ideal" mother and my children are not the perfect offspring of a "June Clever" mom. In fact, I wasn't a perfect child myself - causing many to probably have labeled me as the "black sheep" of the family on more than one occasion.  In fact, despite my love for this country, I have not been entirely the best citizen, probably breaking a few laws here and there as it applies to speed limits, recycling rules, and the like.  To be truthful, I am not the "perfect" anything apart from Christ.  If you look back over my "history", some "chapters" don't paint the prettiest picture - but the ending is sure to delight!
Whenever I have the chance, I use the past lessons of my life to illustrate not only the protection of Christ (for he certainly kept me from some horribly messy circumstances I was pretty heck-bent on pursuing), but his tremendous grace in restoring me in those areas where hurt and harm left me a little bit like a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree".  It was that tendency within me to want my own way which gave me most of my "failure points", for any time "self" demands its own way, harm and hurt are sure to follow.  Why?  Simply because temptation plays upon the heart committed to fulfilling its own way! Learning to see the choices we make as inherent to the demands of our heart can help us avoid being defeated by temptation in our lives.
The "guard" we must maintain in our lives is more than just a watchfulness. Being watchful is good - don't get me wrong - but I have "watched" myself into some pretty tough corners at times!  It wasn't that I didn't recognize the choices I was making, but because I was only "watching" what I wanted to see, I allowed myself to block out the "other side" of the picture - the side where Christ stood clearly pointing the direction I should take.  Sometimes we call this "justifying our behavior" with our own "made-up" set of rules.  It is like saying, "This isn't totally bad", then pursuing it because it really doesn't "totally" go against what we know to be right.  The problem is the "mix" in the message - we see only what we want to see - negating the real truth of what we need to see.
History is bound to repeat itself until we learn from it.  Maybe this is why we are given the chance to "look back" on occasion.  We don't wallow in the "mully-grubs" over the past missed opportunities, but we become aware of the ways we missed the opportunities, learning to avoid those same pitfalls in the future.  Too many times we use these opportunities to look back on our past as times to drift into self-pity, self-torture, and self-condemnation.  This is not the pattern God has for considering our past.  In fact, if we "look back", it is to be through his eyes.  We are to see the past in the perspective he views it - behind us, but as a stepping stone for his grace to grow us.  I cannot emphasize this enough - we need God's perspective on our past if we are to view it as he does!
If we "look back", it is with the intention of learning.  All growth comes from grace - all grace comes as a gift of God - all God's gifts are meant for our good - all our past then is meant to help us grow into our present and prepare us for our future, but only as we perceive it through the eyes of Christ.  I don't know how you have been considering your past temptations and where they allowed you to end up, but if you want to learn from them, you must learn to see them clearly through the eyes of the one who has the "full perspective" - Christ himself.  Just sayin!

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