Sunday, January 6, 2019

Let the past launch you into the future!

"One faces the future with one's past." Pearl S. Buck

The other day the hospice nurse was chatting with mom. They were talking about how mom feels like she is sometimes a burden - something I think most parents feel when they become a little more dependent upon their children for their daily needs. As they chatted, the nurse kindly reminded mom that I appeared to be very happy doing what it takes to keep her safe and well-cared for, then she said that maybe it was my turn to repay mom for the many times I may have been a handful for her in my younger days. While she didn't know me as a kid, she certainly had me 'pegged'! I did my share of things that put mom and dad through heartache and the simple acts I perform today to keep mom safe and well are nothing compared to those times! We all have those 'tales from the past' we'd rather like to keep hidden from view - things we are neither proud of, nor very appealing to onlookers. Yet, they are the very things that actually can launch us into greater things in our present and into our future!

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:21-24 MSG)

This mess we get ourselves into isn't a hole we cannot escape - it is a launching pad for us into realms of grace when God does the launching! Realms of grace that we come to fully know as we are fully known and loved by him each and everyday. He fully knows us - like no other can. His grace is able to help us face our future, not based upon our past reputation and performance, but on his present ample influx of grace in our lives. It is an exchanged life - the past doesn't hold us down when it is placed in his hands - it launches us into new heights of grace-filled living.

I often go back to this very passage from Romans to re-read it - not because I don't believe it - but because I sometimes need reminders that grace HAS DONE the work in my life (and yours). The work is done - the past is just that - and the future is what I need to focus on today (not the past bumblings of my life). The impossible has happened - what I could not do for myself - getting past my past - has happened by sheer and utter grace. While I don't always forget I have a past, I no longer dwell upon it as the present reality of who I am today! I am a new creation (and so are you) - as such, we don't act upon the past, but use it as a catapult to push us into the newness of our present grace-filled life!

It was Pearl Buck who reminded us: "Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members." It isn't my past guilt that 'makes me' do the things I do for mom, but my present love of her made deeper and deeper with each passing year. In fact, the tasks may be hard at times and even become a little taxing on both strength and stamina, but they are rewarded by the even greater return of her love. We aren't bound by our past, but we can allow the experiences of our past to build into our lives a great love for the things we come to value as 'the best' in life! The moments mom poured love into my life when I was far from deserving of her love and grace only pointed out to me how God loves each of us. Grace returned for actions far from deserving of grace! That is how God operates  --  and he wants us each to realize he loved us in our 'past', and continues to love us in our present, preparing to love us in an ever-deepening manner into our future! Just sayin!