Remembering the past impacts our way of living in the present, thus directing our future. Therefore, we need to get the past right.
This could certainly be a problem for those of us who have a sketchy past, filled with foolish decisions, hurtful conversations, and broken relationships.
As Rafiki, in the classic film, The Lion King said, “The past can hurt”.
When we look back at our lives, chances are the rearview mirror holds some good times and some bad times. Some years were banner years, while some were the ones that brought on the restlessness we still carry with us to this day.
When we look at the Bible, however, we see that remembering the past can provide us with the tools to reframe our present and give hope for the future. These tools can be found in the two events, from the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament, that govern the Bible.
The first event is the greatest upset in history. It’s when God defeats Pharoah and then makes a mockery out of Yamm, the “god of the Sea”. In this event, we remember that God freed his people from Pharoah (slavery) and then led his people through death (the sea).
This is the center of the entire Old Testament. Look at the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20), look at the Psalms (Ps. 78). This is the event to be remembered for every generation because it’s a demonstration of who God is - full of love, full of mercy, full of grace. When God’s people are confused, frustrated, or scared - they are to remember, in their present, just who God is, the God who frees from slavery and death. For, in doing this, it reframed their current situation, with the framing of hope and new life.
The second event is foreshadowed by the first event, it’s the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It’s the defining moment in all of history. It is the event remembered every day of our lives, and most intentionally on Sundays when we gather to worship. This is the defining moment of history because, in this event, Jesus, once and for all, showed the heart of God - a heart full of love because God is love. In this event, Jesus has provided the way for us to be reconciled with God, to be freed from slavery and filled with the Spirit of God for new life.
When we look at these two events, we see the theme of new life emerge. We remember that God’s heart is for us to have new life, a new life that, through the love of God, helps us to be healed from our past - where our past can be reframed with wood, the wood of the Cross, where God displayed his grand “yes” to life for all humanity. It’s a yes to you, all of you, including your past.
So what are you remembering in your past? Perhaps it’s time to reframe your past with the story of the exodus and the wood of the cross. Perhaps, it’s time to come face to face with the God who knows your past, so that when you remember your past, you are not bound by it, but freed from it, because the love of God, displayed in the work of Jesus, is redeeming your past.
Let’s pray, “Abba, you want my past, I give you permission, minister to me, help my past to be reframed with the wood of your Son’s cross, In His name. Amen.”
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.