Visiting the Past, Living in the Present

What an amazing April I’ve had! While visiting our oldest son and his family in England, we took a little side trip to Pisa…

And, then on to Rome…

As if that wasn’t enough, just a few days after arriving back in the states, we got to go to South Padre Island with our youngest son and his family…

Our April adventure didn’t end there, on Saturday, we travelled down to Buda, TX with some friends for the annual Weiner Dog Races! Oh yes, it is a very real, and very much anticipated event.

From the ancient to the up-to-the minute modern, there is so much of life to enjoy, to experience, and to try to understand. We keep the old, and make way for the new, for it is only as we understand the past that we can truly look forward to, and enjoy, the present; but sometimes we don’t fully understand the past, or we see it with tinted vision.

For example, as we think about the architect who designed the bell tower in Pisa, there is no certainty who he was, why he didn’t finish, or even if he ran away into obscurity because he was so embarrassed by his error. We do know he didn’t finish the tower. He’s lost to us. He’s lost to history. But his tower is famous.

If he had built a perfect tower, on a perfect foundation, would we even ponder his masterpiece? Maybe, maybe not. Yet, because of his imperfect understanding of the foundation upon which he was building, many are still learning from his mistake today. Has he contributed more to the field of engineering (and tourism) by his error, than by his beautiful construction.

I wonder, would he claim his tower today if he could? Would he own his mistake? Would he embrace the tilt? Would he be teaching classes to help future architects and engineers understand the necessity of a solid foundation? Would he enjoy his present more if he embraced his past?

I saw the spectacular ruins in Rome and I tried to imagine the gladiators, the animals, and the throngs of people who might have attended the events in the Coliseum, but even then, I think it was far grander than anything I can come up with. Plus, I learned that the movies got it all wrong – well, except for the elevators to lift the animals up to the arena floor, that was correct.

Sometimes, I think we look at our past and all we see are errors and ruins as well. Ruined relationships, ruined hopes, ruined dreams, ruined plans… nothing but tremendous piles of rubble and rubbish. Moreover, in our imagination we put things together the way they woulda, coulda, or shoulda been, if only things were different. If only we or someone else had said something different, reacted different, or thought different. We can “what if” ourselves to death; or at least to emotional paralysis.

Sometimes it is good to spend a little time in the ruins, we can learn from them, we can see what should be different, we can see what is strong enough to remain, valuable enough to recycle, what should be left alone, and what can be rebuilt. Sometimes, it is good to invite people into our ruins, we can share with them our hurts, our pains, our embarrassments, and our disasters so that they can avoid them; or help them to walk through their own ruins.

One of the things that ruins should not prevent, though, is our ability to move forward in Christ. If we linger in the ruins, we can get lost in them. We can let them define us. We can live in them rather than put them in the past and move forward into the sunshine of God’s love.

Our past is never a reason to keep us from God. We don’t have to clean up the ruins, or rebuild them, we don’t have to straighten up every mistake, or live in obscurity and fear; God welcomes us just as we are.

The most amazing thing about grace is that we don’t have to get the place where we deserve God’s favor before we receive it. Truth is, we will never deserve it, that’s why it’s called grace: God’s unmerited favor. While we were sinners, while we were creating the ruins, while we were living in them, while we were lost in them, while we were fearing our past, embarrassed by it, or trapped in it, God sent his Son to save us, to die for us, to bring us into a present freedom. He didn’t insist we clean up first, but he did it while we were dirty.

We can live in the present and enjoy life fully because Christ died to redeem us from our broken pasts. When we become Christians, our pasts don’t define us, our mistakes don’t define us, our rubble and ruins don’t define us – our identity is wrapped up in Jesus, that is what defines us! We are no longer who we were, we are who he has made us, and is making us, to be. We are new creations, not the old rubble of our ruins.

What is keeping you from trusting God and moving forward in his love? What is keeping you bound in the past? What ruins are defining you? What embarrassment has you paralyzed and hiding in obscurity? Will you receive the love God has for you, the sacrifice he made for you, and the salvation he has prepared for you and come into the present?

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 365 Days of Grace — is currently available on any of the following links:
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6 thoughts on “Visiting the Past, Living in the Present

  1. suehahn

    Very insightful! I love your devotions. They se to be on target for where I am on the dayI get to read one. Thank you for sharing your talent!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vonnie Johnson

    I’m so glad you have had so much to experience, all over the world, Marcia! And that you can come back home and continue to enjoy the simplest joys of life! Don’t be surprised if I call you in early June for a quick hug and catch up time as I visit my daughter..that’s if you are anywhere near your home! God bless you and keep you safe and healthy! Love you, my friend..

    Liked by 1 person

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