'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
During some recent conversations, comments seemed to drift toward the past. The drifts were similar - a kind of reflective remembering, even a melancholy longing for past years, events, and times. Whether the past was primarily positive or negative, we still lingered on the past. Some felt they were loosing their grip on the present. Perhaps the past was better. Perhaps they could even to return to there past. But if we get to the past, we may find that there may be no one there.
Long after Israel had been delivered from Egyptian bondage, God over and over commanded them to focus on the fact of their deliverance. Very seldom did He remind them of how it was in Egypt, although He did occasionally in connection with a warning about the way they were drifting away from Him. He left them with a very profound memory of the value of their deliverance. God is the same today as He was yesterday. For a long time, Israel seemed obsessed with returning to Egypt. The episode of the golden calf seems shockingly forgetful. So quickly they forgot how it really was in Egypt. They could not see their present through eyes of faith.
Sometimes we also long for our "Egypt". And we wonder why the former days were better than these (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
Everyone has a "past". And it is impossible to completely block it out, unless there is a mental disorder of some type. Some desperately desire to forget the past, especially when terrible mistakes were made, or the loss of someone very close. The loss of a mate can be like a knife dividing something that was whole - something that was one, but is now only half. One half of the "one flesh" is no more. Such feel only half-alive - only half here.
Others live in a kind of absentee past. Functioning daily in a preoccupation so embedded in memories that they are almost unaware of what is going on around them. These are often imprisoned in the past. There seems no way of escape. Indeed, some do not wish to escape, if their past contains mostly pleasant memories. For others, they are tormented by it, unable to let it go. For them, they are involuntarily transported back to their Egypt, into a slavery from which it seems they have not been really delivered. They return hundreds of times, to try to relive times of pleasantness. Or, they return to grieve over the outcome of events, or sins that caused someone harm. It is sometimes a subconscious, almost desperate attempt to somehow make what happen come out differently by just covering the same event or situation over and over again. But - it cannot be undone.
One of the most perplexing questions by Christians is the famous, or infamous, three-letter word - Why? Why would God allow tormenting memories of past sins, mistakes, events to haunt them when they have repented of and been forgiven of all that was, in the past? But it can be forgiven by Jesus Christ who died for it. His grace applied to the sin or mistake will cleanse the stain, and make it as if it never was. In that sense, the past can be undone. Then, it is just a memory only.
Our memories - good and bad - are made to serve the purpose in our lives now, if we have been conquered by God. There is a direct connection. God uses reference points from our past, as the Holy Spirit jogs our memories and thoughts, to encourage us, or correct us, or warn us, and to turn us. If we have a foundation in living God's way in our lives, we may have drifted away from the things in our past that we should not forget.
There is a curious fallacy in our fallen natures. The things in our past that we should have put permanently under the blood of Christ keep drifting back into our consciousness. But the things that should always be uppermost in our hearts and consciousness, we forget. If we forget these things long enough, we can loose them. This was the experience of Israel. They longed for what they should have been trying to forget, and forgot what they should have remembered.
This is the ominous danger for the Christian. After being delivered from our Egypt, like Israel we may be temped to return to ways of the world that was for us back then, and begin to forget and eventually loose the "new past" that God began putting together for us when we first trusted Him. These are right pasts. They are part of the right path - the narrow way. The lighted path, that Christ began to lay out for us... a new "past" that will forever be part of our future. In this way we can go back to our future.
May we never allow our past - or the present - to cause us to drift back into Egypt.
“Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions...” - Philippians 3:12-15 (AB)
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