Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence.~Augustine
That quote from St. Augustine of Hippo rings very true today. I think Augustine was reminding us that God is in our past, our present and our future, all at the same time. Of the three, I want to really focus on the past. The past is always with us and a constant reminder of good times and bad times. Just like everything in this lifetime there are always good aspects and bad aspects. You cannot talk about the present and the future without the past. The past is what has made us who we are today. The choices we make today will shape who we are in the future. The trick is to learn from the past and not dwell on it. The word that Augustine uses to describe the past is mercy. Let’s face it, when we look back at our past we don’t always see the positive parts of it, we focus on the negative. If only I did this, if only I had done that, if only I never got involved with that person, if only I did something different, if only, if only….. Regret is a powerful anchor to the past. There is nothing we can do to alter the past and make it go away. The enemy the devil will be there always to remind you of it. Like Augustine said, we need to trust God’s mercy to the past. I can tell you I spent 37 years holding on to shame and regret from the past. All it got me was heart failure and 449 pounds and one step closer to the grave. Take it from me when we focus on our negative past all it does is slow our forward direction God wants us to go. It messes up our present and will give us a negative future. What we need to do is turn that negative past around and see it as God sees it, a blessing in disguise. God does not create the circumstances that may happen in our lives, He is there to love us and to pick up the pieces and make us a testimony to His glory.
That brings me to the present. God’s love is ever present in the present. When we can turn that negative past around and realize God got us through it, we start to experience God’s love in a whole new way. When you let go of the anchor of the past it frees you up to loving yourself. All the negative past and regret is hating what you did, hating your life, hating yourself. That’s where depression comes from, inner anger toward yourself, stemming usually from a regret you may have. When we love ourselves as God loves us, we can free ourselves from our past and start moving forward in our lives. Love gives our lives momentum to the future.
This blog was inspired by a set of of verses in James 4:13-17.
13 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today-at the latest, tomorrow-we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.”14 You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.15 Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
16 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil.17 In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil. MSG version.
Love will inspire the future toward better things in our lives. James here is warning us not to plan out our future without God in the equation. When we leave God out of our plans James says it’s a sin. The most abundant life you can live is if you allow God to direct your path for the future. The best way to do that is to allow love to be the motivating factor in all you do. Pure love put Christ on the cross so that we can live a blameless life. The regret of the past needs to be let go of because God does not see it any longer. Sure we can’t forget the past, but lets not allow ourselves to be ruled by it. Let’s let God rule us and direct us by loving ourselves as He loves us.