Sunday, 15 July 2018 20:09

When the Past Upsets the Future

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Have you ever observed the past upsetting the future? This can happen in a number of ways: being in the wrong place at the wrong time, painful experiences that haunt you down the road, poor decisions, failed relationships, inappropriate behavior, moral failure, and the like. The bad thing about the past upsetting the future is that our past should compliment our future, not delay, sidetrack, or cause defeat as we face it.

No one knew this better than King David did. His adultery with Bathsheba (II Sam. 11) upset his future. This moral failure upset David’s reign as king. It also upset his family life, his plans, his future, and most of all his relationship with God.

What broad lessons can we learn from David? First, our past can have adverse effects on those around us. This is obvious with a moral failure, divorce, or similar dire situations. However, some situations are subtler. A bad church experience could cause adverse effects on our families. David experienced negative consequences with his family. For this we must be on our guard.

It is possible for a pastor to go through a termination, face negative experiences at church, or feel the pressures of ministry and suffer the effects for years. If I have a bad day at work I may bring my day home and unconsciously share the day with my family or unload on them. This is what I call family fallout. I say this with love in my heart, not to cast stones.

In light of this we should be careful to address our past when:

  • Others hurt us
  • We have experienced an unpleasant ministry situation
  • We have suffered the effects of burnout and/or stress
  • We carry negative personal emotions (depression, anxiety, unforgiveness, etc.)

Another lesson we learn from David is to guard against the dangers that are lurking in the shadows. All of us have them. All of us have deceptive hearts. The danger could be the weaknesses of our own hearts or unseen dangers. It was said of Billy Graham that he would never allow himself to be in any compromising situation with a woman (in a room, car, or elevator) over the years of his ministry career. He guarded against the dangers.

David’s failure was a failure from the past, but what if he had protected himself against the failure. What if he had guarded his heart against the lust that drove him to sin? What if he had enlisted the help of his “might men” to hold him accountable for his moments of weakness? The sad thing is, his position as King might have nullified any help that was available from those who were assigned to stand beside him. Pastors often do not have accountability partners because of their position.

We can always play the “what if” game but we can also learn from it. The “what if” game might protect us from failures that become upsets from our past.

So much for the negative side of David’s past. I do not want to minimize David’s sin but to maximize God’s grace. David’s failure upset his future, but the grace of God was stronger than his past. We find David’s name recorded in God’s HALL OF FAME. In Heb. 11:32 David was commended for being one of God’s people of faith. God also fulfilled His promise to David to provide a descendant who would be the Messiah of the world (Matt. 1:1).

God’s Grace is stronger than our greatest failures! God’s Grace is richer than our biggest blunders!

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