The Past#4. “A great teacher.”

The Past#4. “A great teacher.”

I was halfway to Nashville, and I needed to stop. So, I left the freeway and arrived at a tiny, poorly lit gas station. The attached store was but a glorified prefab (USA trailer home), filled with every kind of convenience food that ever fed a heart attack. The two ladies manning the store were friendly and happy to meet a strangely accented traveller “not from these parts.” One of the ladies had “Billy Jo” tattooed in big bold letters on her arm. “Is that your husband?” I asked with a smile. “No,” she lamented, “my ex-husband. I won’t do that again, will I?”

Most people do not have their mistakes openly displayed for all the world to see. But get to know them and they too may reveal some of their not so obvious marks of the past.

For Christians also, the past is both a graveyard of poor failures and a goldmine of rich victories. Along with the massive mistakes, which can still have their ill effects, there were a lot of things that you learned to get right. I would caution those who decide that their ‘graveyard of poor failures’ can be miraculously added to their ‘goldmine of victories’ by quoting Romans 8:28 (“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…”).

Human beings have difficulty judging the impact of their behaviour. We are infamous for highlighting the sins of others while minimising our own shortcomings. What we often viewed as faded past marks of failure, could actually have been serious sin stains. Yes, all forgiven, but no, not fit for public display.

Jesus has taken care of the past so that we can use the present to bless the future.

Concerning those sins of the past, let’s all say with Billy Jo’s ex-wife: “I won’t do that again, will I?”

John Staiger


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