What Lies Behind

“Your closest exit may be behind you.” Have you ever heard that reminder from a flight attendant? He mentions that because sometimes our focus is so fixed ahead of us that we forget to take into consideration what is behind us.

It’s the same way with history. We are fearful of where our world is headed, and rightly so. But our grandparents lived in a time when diseases were rampant, the economy was destroyed, the entire world was at war, and nuclear weapons were unleashed. It must have seemed like the end of the world to them. And yet, here we are.

Being acquainted with history – corporate and personal – is necessary in order to gain a clear perspective for the future. If we don’t examine our past and learn from it, heal from it and resolve it, we may very well miss the door to freedom.

God repeatedly instructed the Israelites to build memorials in order to remember the great things He had done for them. The celebration of Passover was instituted so that they would remember the miracles He did to rescue them from slavery in Egypt. In the same way, Jesus instituted communion. “This do,” He said,” in remembrance of Me.”

At this stage of life, I’d rather not contemplate my past. It is over and done with; I want to keep it buried and move on. But lately God keeps bringing my personal history back to mind, making me aware that I haven’t completed the work of appreciating its gifts and lessons and appropriating them into my identity. Some things need to be welcomed whether we feel like it or not. Like the cattails around our dock, each year’s new life must sprout from the detritus from the years before. It is the old that nourishes the new. To deny it is to deny part of our very soul.

It says in Isaiah that He gives beauty for ashes. But ashes are an excellent fertilizer. Perhaps beauty blooms because it has been fed by those ashes. Death feeds life in the resurrecting power of God, who causes all things to work together for good. Even the ashes. Especially the ashes.

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