Past Continuous

The past is a powerful place, isn’t it?

I’ve been reminded of this whilst listening to a song by the Wombats. It’s called ‘1996” and here’s an excerpt;

‘I had no cares in the 1990s

I knew of no downfalls.

The war was breaking out all around me

My concerns were with prank calls.

She kissed me on the cheek

She kissed me on the cheek

Right in front of the older kids

When my self-belief, my self-belief

Wasn’t scarred by the modern itch.

‘Cause now it feels like

We kissed with one eye on the TV set

And the more I give, the less I get ..

Bring back 1996, bring back 1996

So hard to beat, those teenage kicks, bring back 1996’

What’s your past like? Have you got a 1996?

It might be a safe spot, wreathed in dappled sunlight.  An invitation or a warm cuppa.

Or it could be somewhere dark and dangerously still. A skeleton with long bony fingers that still threaten to claw you back in.

Either way, it’s not Swiss. When it comes to history,personal history, neutrality is not an option. Whether we react against or in obedience to it, we’re shaped by where we’ve come from.

In this sense at least, we’re not the authors of our life stories.  But I wonder if we’re even the best readers either.  I think I can make sense of my life story so far.  But in fact, I’m too deeply involved to make any kind of judgements. Some days I think ‘Man, I’ve screwed everything up’. On others, I can see purpose, and even (by God’s grace), bits of beauty. I look back and part of me thinks that there was a time when everything was perfect. The danger with this is that I allow it to influence the shape of the present and the future.  Instead of living in the moment, I can spend my time looking over my shoulder – or ahead, to an equally mythic period, (at least in this world), when I’ve got everything sussed.

I guess it comes back to the idea of daily bread. God gives us just enough for the day – whether challenge or blessing.  God can be trusted to make sense of what has been and to lead us with hope into what is to come. Our lives aren’t stuck on a loop – and our happiness and purpose is not linked to a particular year or time.  This means that we can let go, knowing that History – both cosmic and personal, is in His hands.

4 thoughts on “Past Continuous

  1. I love this. Dan B. Allender wrote a book called ‘To Be Told’ , it’s about seeing your life as a story that God is writing. I began to look at the whole of my life, the good, the bad, and the UGLY, through different eyes. It helped me to stop wasting energy trying to erase reality. God is much better at being God than I am.

  2. I loved ‘To Be Told’ too! – a friend recommended it and, like you, it helped me see life in a different way. I’m also a big fan of Allender’s ‘The Wounded Heart’.

  3. ‘The Wounded Heart’ was a really hard read for me, I actually have never completely finished it. His book ‘Bold Love’ was amazing too and runs along similar lines, but now I sound like a groupie (which I am).

  4. Yes, Wounded Heart is a tough read – I got round this by getting the CDs of the talks. We went on a road trip round Wales and listened to it in the car. But even then, it took weeks as the material’s pretty heavy. (For those who haven’t come across it, the subject matter is dealing with sexual abuse, though it has a lot to say on pastoral theology generally). Next stop, ‘Bold Love’..

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