Sunday, 30 August 2015
Facing the Past to Move into God's Future
"Peter had an affair". "John left his wife". "Before she joined the church Anne was a prostitute". "Alan embezzled to get where he is today".
Maybe not as big, but we all have them. Events from our past that haunt us. Playing "doctor" as a child and exploring the opposite gender for the first time - or the twenty-first as an adult.
It's the seemingly little things that haunt us. The accusations that come in the night when we're alone. Our husband or wife asleep beside us and the guilt that floods our minds. Images real or imagined flood through our beings and we lose sleep. Actions whether taken or not haunt us as God's Children. We feel the missed mark more acutely than the bullseye.
I remember very little of my childhood. My brother died when he was ten and I was 13, and the majority of the time we had together is more a memory of a memory. There's very little clarity in my head. I remember the loss. The pain of losing Robin but not the joy of having him in my life.
I remember skeletons we shared with cousins and friends as small children do, exploring out of sight of adults the mysteries of our differences. Why did this cousin play with dolls and this one with toy guns? Robin died in 1985 and personal computers - although available - were things of luxury. We finally got one just a few weeks before he died and instantly all our friends wanted to come and see and play games on it. But mostly we went to other people's homes and played traditional games.
Simpler times. No cell-phones or facebook to interrupt us. We played and explored as generations had done before.
Something happened as we grew up. Friendship got replaced with BBM and Whatsapp. Facebook dominates the time of the majority of the youth at a time when they need to find out who they are they are too busy trying to find out if Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears are wearing underwear. A few years ago in the movie "True Lies" (1994) a character laments that Axl Rose and Madonna are the one's raising their kids these days, not mom and dad. 21 years later how much has that deteriorated!
The assault on the nuclear family in the media has been relentless. Pre-nuptuial agreements, contracts settling how equity will be divided in the event of divorce are routine contracts these days. The concept of "All my worldly goods with you I share" is replaced with an addendum "except the lake house in Virginia, the ski lodge in Aspen and the Yacht in Miami." Marriages are entered into with the expectation of failure.
At a time when families are needed more we have fewer men capable of being real men because they have never been fathered themselves.
I was blessed that my grandfathers both survived the second World War, one as a minister on the Home Front - something he regretted to the day he died as he wanted to go to Europe and fight the Nazis, and the other as a Major in the British Army serving as a motorcycle outrider and accountant for the regiment with distinction gained for valour on the Normandy Beach assaults, D-Day, June 6th 1944.
The foundation these strong men left was passed down to me as an example of what a real man should be. Fearless in battle, both spiritual and physical, a protector.
Too many of my friends growing up didn't have what I had. Parents had divorced, grandfathers had died and fathers had had no guiding influence because their own grandfathers had died between 1914 and 1918. Two lost generations dead physically or too traumatised to raise sons to be Men.
This is the past we must face.
This is what as Christians we must overturn.
The moral decay of the 1950's through to today, removing Christian influence in schooling in the 1960's, the rise of a powerful atheist minority who make a lot of noise while the Church stays silent has resulted in a world gone mad. Smaller wars like Korea, Vietnam, the Falklands, Afghanistan, Desert Storm along with genocide in African countries and now ISIS and their atrocities added to "ethnic cleansing" in central Europe makes for a holocaust of slaughter that Hitler himself would be proud of.
We must repent of our past.
Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech 52 years ago this year. He called on citizens to rise up and break the bonds of tyranny and segregation. Just 20 years ago my wife and I would be criminals in South Africa as I am white and she is not. I have been accused to my face of betraying my race by both black and white individuals.
It is a past we need to move beyond.
God has a plan for the future of Mankind. He called it "Incarnation"
He took our own form, lived a human life and died a human death so we could have a future in Him after His resurrection.
His plan for the future is what we need to remember.
My wife and I watched "Evan Almighty" recently. God appears in the form of Morgan Freeman and instructs a young congressman to build an Ark like Noah had been told to.
His explanation after a burst dam floods a housing project and the ark has saved hundreds of lives is that to change the world, all we need to to make one act of random kindness a day.
The simplicity of the message is right up there with the parables if we approach it from a Godly standpoint rather than an entertainment one.
What if God's future were really based on building on Acts of Random Kindness? What if we could effect change simply by adopting a puppy or making peace with a neighbour?
That's a personal dig at myself. I can forgive people who steal from me - and I do so easily. I have forgiven people who threw the first punch physically (even when I threw the last one) and gone on to have long friendships with them, but forgiving my literal next-door neighbour has caused me great anxiety. My olive branches have been made into kindling to start a new fire. After an attempted break-in on our property which sent our dogs nuts at three in the morning I went round to apologise and ask if they were ok as the intruder had jumped the fence between our properties. I left feeling like I was the bad-guy because his sleep had been disrupted.
Forgiving him has been difficult. And is a work in progress.
It's also essential for my own growth. Unforgiveness is a cancer in the soul that prevents us moving to the next level with God. To move into the future I must forgive the ones who have hurt me.
All of them.
So do you. We all have the annoying neighbour, relative or acquaintance we can't escape. Sometimes the easiest way is to decide to forgive, but to sever contact with that person. It's not always easy. Especially when it's family - believe me. But in the end we don't need conflict in our lives. Conflict prevents God from giving us the Best He has for us. Forgiveness opens that door.
So face the past. Acknowledge it, but don't hold onto it.
Move into the Future God has for you.
You'll never regret it.