When Your Past Finds You

Have you not lived at least once…

Yashica TL-E 35mmWhen something of your past finally caught up to you? Our local paper and the other news sources reported that last week a major criminal was caught behind our local Safeway. It did not impact me, but it sure showed up big in the news! Something about where he had been, and what he had once done, made him an enviable feather in someone’s cap!

Just this past week, I have experienced two gentlemen that have showed up in my life from my past. To my credit, I immediately remembered one as he lived just two houses down from us for a while. The other worked in that murky world of past teenager employment at the Benson Printing Company.

Each shared specific memories with me that I instantly connected with! I’m thankful my memories of the past did not include painting the world as something negative. Else, each may have had something less than positive to share! And while it is true that there were negatives of that past, most of my memories are generally favorable, scraping the bad memories into the corner to be tossed with the trash.

This made me think. This Sunday, newly Spring season in play, what would we do if our most worried about portion of the past showed up on our doorstep? How would we handle it? Would it be a terrible experience?

About the same time I worked at Benson (printing The Sentinel, a local weekly newspaper), I attended a summer workshop at Texas A&M, dealing with the varied subject of writing, reporting, producing a paper/annual, along with my desired specialty – taking pictures with my trusty Yashica TL-E 35 mm camera. (YES… I still own it… For nearly 45 years this camera has moved with me all around the nation!)

While at the summer workshop, I distinctly remember being with students from 100’s of high school campuses. My fellow students were all there, ready to learn and then apply to their craft back home. Other than our teacher (Sylvia James), I can only recall one other student from that trip. He and I have made a connection through Social Media over the past few years, but I felt like he did not remember me very well… I have great memories of him through our school connection.

You see, I’m part of his past and he does not recall me very well.

When I first went to Alaska in ’77, I found out something about that state that I’ve confirmed several times. When people are in trouble with life, and they prepare to flee their troubles, too often it’s as far away as their imagination, money and travel time can take them. They often arrive in Alaska and never leave, sort of melting into the tundra of life on the Last Frontier.

Many hope their past never catches up to them, and for some it probably never does. But some, well, suffice it to say their past caught up with them in a big way!

I’ve been a Christian all my adult life. My past in not mired with riotous living, but I know there are some things that I would not want the present world to know about. Mostly, they are personal and embarrassing.

I belong to a dying breed of generational expression that does NOT want the past opened and discussed in public like so many of this present world!

Think about it for a moment. As a Christian, forgiven for all my past transgressions, the past still finds a way to tromp across my memories. You feel remorse, and it brings those guilt feelings into the present all over again. The Apostle Paul helps me with this with several scriptures that make me wash those memories away. Let me share…

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 NKJV)

We all have a past. But in Christ, these trespasses and sins have been forgiven by God, who is rich in mercy, grace and love. Our past is history. We are saved through faith. This past that we are saved from, Paul again paints this with a broad stroke of commentary.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV)

That past, repeated in the present, has the power to keep us out of the Kingdom of God! But those who are redeemed by Jesus have a new past to write into our future walk.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22-25 NKJV)

The Spirit brings out the best in all of us. It fills our world with Love, Joy, Peace and a stillness of words that show how we best should live in our present life. If we are living in the Spirit, then we should also walk in the Spirit… Daily.

When your past bubbles up into your present, be like David from my blog yesterday (Before You Pray), and remind yourself of God’s goodness to care for you, and swiftly push those memories where they belong… Into your past!