Sunday, May 1, 2011

Learning to Let Go of the Past

Whenever we are faced with the challenge of living through a difficult tragedy or loss,  it takes everything we have to just face tomorrow. To somehow see how life can work now that our plans are shattered, or a relationship has ended makes starting over seem life an overwhelming impossibility.

We cannot live in the shadow of past regrets, but we can find ways to live in today's new beginning. Starting anything over is no easy task. Like the game of  Jenga, when the blocks of our plans come tumbling down, we have to stay in the game, pick up the pieces and begin again.It is never easy to start over. To have the courage and confidence to create a new beginning can feel overwhelming.

Life is not a Game

Playing a game with our family or friends is one thing, but life as we all know, is not a game. Sometimes, things happen that we have no control over yet we have to live with the impact of the consequences nonetheless.

Time Travelers know the meaning of finding it difficult to not revisit the past and go over strategies and contingency plans over and over to try to make some sense over what went wrong. Like the game of Jenga, every piece of our actions create a foundation for the choices yet to be made. If a certain foundational piece is unstable, whatever we do next can cause everything we call important to us, to come tumbling down.

We need to find a way to let  go of the Past

It just doesn't seem fair to have been hurt by someone, to lose a cherished family member, or find that recent financial problems have led to seeing one's home foreclosed upon. Every piece of our life is connected to another piece of our life. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here yet, so find a way to live for today.

It is no easy thing to pretend it just doesn't matter to have lost everything that was important or meaningful in your life.To wake up each morning and put on the happy face, the serious face or it really doesn't matter face, only works for a little while. All too soon you find yourself time traveling back to the past, lost in a sea of regret, or caught up in the worries of tomorrow, in a tornado of anxiety, that just leaves you overwhelmed once again.

That is why it can be so difficult to move on when you cannot see how the next piece can fit into place without the other unknown pieces. We all know that life is more than a bunch of puzzle pieces, but how do you begin again?

Only a life with Jesus Christ can give us the wondrous balance to live in the present, while being painfully overwhelmed and grieved with a tragic event in the past and filled with anxious uncertainties about the future. How is that possible? 

 Every one of us will travel on the Road to Emmaus

One day two disciples of Jesus Christ were walking along the Road to the city of Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. Their hearts were overwhelmed with events that had taken place just a few days before. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, had been crucified, and was dead and buried in a tomb in Jerusalem. With that tragedy, so were their hopes and dreams. Time had literally stopped for these time travelers.

“Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.” Luke 24:13-14

They desperately needed some way  to make sense of what had happened.

The Lord Jesus drew near and walked with them

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Luke 24:15-18

The  Lord encouraged them to verbalize the reason for their heavy hearts

Jesus Christ stepped into real time as it was happening in the present, and met with two confused, hurting disciples. Sometimes we fail to remember that God reaches out to us at the point of our deepest felt need.

Even though He already knew, He wanted to have them express their own perspective on what was specifically troubling them. “What things?”  Luke 24:19a

 The Lord allowed them to share what was heaviest on their hearts

We can so easily cut people off and give eloquent advice, applicable verses from the Bible and even offer to pray for hurting people, but we far too seldom are patient enough to allow them to share the depth of their heartbreak or the impact of their shattered dreams upon their lives. What a confusing time it must have been to so many people when Jesus Christ, the expected Redeemer, the Lord of Salvation, was crucified.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.
 The Lord understands what it is like to lose Hope
"And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” Luke 24:19b-24

The Lord brought truth from the Scriptures to reach their troubled hearts

We can encourage people with poems and songs, gifts and hugs, but people only truly change when God’s Word enters their troubled hearts and minds.
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

The Lord never pushes Himself upon us but wants us to invite Him near

“As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24:28-31  
The Lord ignited their troubled hearts and it changed their lives

 When people are open with God and allow His Word to impact them they will never be the same. The Lord is present with us and He will reveal truth to our troubled minds and catch our hearts on fire with new hope if we will allow Him to be the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He alone holds time in His hands.

“They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24: 32

Those of us who tend to be time travelers need to lock into the now of their lives. They struggle most for the discipline of being present and accounted for. These disciples stopped in their tracks, stepped out of the past, forgot about the future and grasped the critical reality that was theirs in the present. Divine responsibility replaced meaningless time traveling.

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” Luke 24:35 

What can we learn from this amazing account?

When you are overwhelmed, and drifting through the past, or anxious and dreading the unknown fears of the future, always remember that there really is no problem in your life that God cannot help you find the answers that you need to do what is right and good.

  • When your heart is heavy, remember that Jesus is near
  • He will walk you through how to sort out of your concerns
  • He wants you to be honest and open about your fears
  • Be open to hear what the Scriptures say about your troubles
  • Invite The Lord to draw near as you sort out what to do
  • Ask Him to set your heart on fire, not just fix your problem
  • Determine to follow through and apply what He has revealed to you
Thoughts to Ponder:

Why is it so hard to release to God what has caused so much pain in our lives?

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

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