Are you grateful for the past? Can you look back in the past and thank God for every positive or negative event? For every success, for each failure, for all the good things, and for all the bad things? Do you expect the development of your life and your future with calm, joyful expectation and confidence? If the answer to all these questions is “No,” then you are probably worshiping the idol of the past. Or, more precisely, the idol of the self, placed on the throne of your past.
The past as an idol
The past is an idol when it plays a key role in determining our identity, both with a negative and a positive sign. The idolization of the past takes place in these three spheres:
- In the field of success and achievements. The past serves as a place of worship of past successes and victories. As well as a source of identity, sufficiency, recognition, significance, and value.
- In the sphere of failures and losses. The past serves as a place of traumatic experiences that we have allowed us to define our identity and to exert a negative influence. This influence is directly related to the way we perceive ourselves, our present, and our future.
- The third sphere is the established patterns of thinking, perception, and action that arose from past events. However, they do not correspond to the present reality and not relevant. These are traditions, formulas, rituals, and rules that support the idol of the past.
The past may be an idol both individually and for a group of people (family, gender) or for entire nations.
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If we have already understood that we worship a self-centered past, the first step is the processing of the past. This includes not only reviewing and confrontation with the facts, but also with the beliefs that have formed as a result of our experiences. Especially beliefs about our personality, value, mission, and purpose in life.
Part of processing the past is the process of giving and receiving forgiveness. We are not responsible for the injuring events and people in our lives. But we are responsible to let them out of the court where we are the supreme judge. We are responsible for our own thoughts, words, and decisions, as well as for our actions.
How to overthrow the idol of the past
We do this by letting the past in the past and by choosing to move on and look ahead. It happens when we stop looking at the past through the prism of our own self and personality with its successes or failures, achievements, and possessions.
The idol falls when we choose to humble ourselves and to include God into the picture. God, Who is the Creator, the Almighty One, Who has complete sovereignty and control over all creation, the Living God and the Eternal King. This is the God Who was, Who is And Who will be. God of the past, of history, God of the present, and God of the future. Moreover, this is the God of generations and God of eternity. This is the God Who does not change, God and Master of time, God of all times, ages, periods and seasons. He is the God of the eternal covenant, and God of perpetuity – El Olam. When we humble ourselves, we choose to give this God the throne of our heart and our worship because He alone deserves it. Then we understand that He is in our past and He owns it.
The new perspective about the past
Our successes and achievements belong to Him because they are based on talents, gifts, inspiration, and the unique design with each of us has been created. He is the basis of our successes because He has blessed and multiplied our efforts and labor. His mercy, direction, blessing, and benevolence are the foundation and catalyst of our success. All good things and gifts come from God and He is the Author (acknowledged or not) of all the good in our lives. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
And what about the failures and traumas? Where is God in this? Yes, He was there in this too. To show us mercy, to save our lives, to send us comfort and help, to bear our burden, ready and determined to redeem every tear and suffering. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
Let’s begin to look at our past through the prism of God’s presence, mercy, and love, “For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’.” (Acts 17:28) And to thank Him and glorify Him for this. Let’s see that He is faithful and does not step back from His words and covenant promises.
The final steps
The next step affecting our present is to devote ourselves to serve God wholeheartedly, in truth and faithfulness. Let us now take responsibility for what is in our control and sphere of influence. What does God want from us? Nothing more than to give Him the place of God and the King that He deserves. To love and honor Him – in our thoughts and hearts, and with our decisions and actions.
This is accompanied by the decision to entrust our present and future to Him as an expression of worship. The fear of the future and the unknown will recede when we understand that God is in our future and He owns it. And there is nothing we can not overcome with Him. And that this future will bring us good with eternal dimensions.
Having knocked down the idol of the past, we can rest in our identity of God’s beloved children. As such we do not need to draw significance and value from successes or achievements. And there is no need to feel inferior because of failures and difficulties. We can now stop fretting and struggling. In this way, we enter and stay in God’s rest with our past, present, and future.
Are you at peace with your past? Which events or people from the past are still haunting you? Which of these steps is the most relevant for you? You are welcome to share and comment!