Friday, July 26, 2013

Past Redeemed

"I wouldn’t ask too much of her," I ventured. "You can’t repeat the past."
"Can’t repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"
(The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

I watched the movie The Great Gatsby when it came out and then read the book a week or so later. Nothing stood out to me quite as much as this quote. After some pondering, I came to a conclusion: We may not be able to repeat the past, but we certainly have the power to change it. I’ve witnessed that firsthand. Present actions become a part of the past, and thus change those memories. Say you and your best friend have done all sorts of things together and made tons of memories. Then one day, you find out that your best friend has been spreading rumors about you behind your back. All those memories in the past will no longer be sweet. You will remember them with bitterness and regret. Or say that you have an acquaintance whom you see from time to time and never really think much about. Then one day, you find out that that acquaintance has been leaving you encouraging notes and sends an anonymous birthday present every year. Suddenly, your past friendship with this person becomes a whole lot more important.

We, as human beings, have a certain ability to alter the past through our actions in the present. And this is not something that can be taken lightly. Being kind to someone once won’t mean that that person always views you as a nice person. One act of betrayal can wipe away a whole past of good memories.

At first this was discouraging. There are memories in my past that will never be the same because of circumstances in the present. Then I remembered something I had heard once in a discussion or a book (I can’t remember exactly) about heaven. When we get to heaven, God will not only redeem us from our sins for all eternity--He will redeem our pasts as well. The redemption of the cross is powerful enough to not only make us pure and clean for all of eternity, but it is powerful enough to redeem our lives here on this earth. Just as memories in my past have been changed because of sin, one day they will be changed back because of redemption. That is the hope I can hold onto. God will make ALL things new. Not just the future, but also the past. This moment I am living in right now will one day be made pure. What a promise.

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