I quickly wiped at the sweat on my forehead with the fingers of my right hand, shifted my backpack, and tried to stretch my stride as Ernie and I fast walked to the bus stop.
Naturally I didn’t want to miss the bus. Because I’d need to cleanup and change clothes before I started work.
Two minutes later, when we turned the corner, as I huffed and puffed, I could see the bus bench fifty yards away. I pictured myself slumping onto that bench and catching my breath.
Just as I collapsed on the bench at the bus stop, Ernie asked, “Are you chained to your past?”
“Am I what?”
“Is your past messing with your present and future?”
“I … don’t know what you’re asking.”
“OK. Let me rephrase the question this way,” Ernie raised his arms above his head, locked his thumbs, and bent side to side, stretching and cooling down to avoid cramping. “Do you allow your past to affect your today?”
Sitting on the bus bench I bent over to touch my toes before I answered. And I also stalled for a moment to repeat to myself, do I allow the past to influence my today? Then I said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’ve never thought about it…. What are you getting at?”
“Well,” Ernie said as he did some rapid calf raises, “I’m wondering how I’ve allowed my past, my history, to impact my present … and I wondered if you’d let your past bully your day-to-day?”
“Hmm.” I took a deep breath, held it, and then exhaled slowly. “Now that you mention it, I think I have.”
Ernie sat down beside me. “I guess I’m thinking about my past mistakes … my past regrets … my past pathetic behavior.”
It was a vulnerable moment. “Oh yeah, I know about that …”
“So I’m trying to determine how my past has prevented my right now from being the best it can be.” Ernie slowly twisted his torso from side to side.
“OK, but the past has some good qualities, doesn’t it?”
“Sure, and that’s a good point … how do I make my past work for my profit instead of tripping me up?”
“I see.” I began thinking about stuff in my past. I cringed at some of the things remembered, but I felt not everything was worthless. And as Ernie spoke I saw how my past had served to fashion who I am today.
Ernie turned his head to me. “I’m thinking the past is the past and there’s a great benefit to that. What do you think?
I think it’s true that what I’ve experienced, what has happened to me in my life, affects how I act.
I think if I believe God is in control that even what I consider the bad stuff, the unprofitable stuff, the horrible stuff, can be made useful in God’s plan.
I think of the story of Joseph. I think of the story of Moses. I think of the story of Job.
Bad things happened. But bad things didn’t prevent God from working good results.
I think I hate to suffer, but is it through suffering that a useful piece of pottery is made?
I think it’s okay to embrace my past and make it work for me and to the glory of God.
I think in spite of unbelievable mockery, ridicule, and contempt Jesus emerged as our Messiah.
Thanks for listening to Lee’s Nite Radio.
The Potter Knows the Clay–Perrys