KEY SCRIPTURE Genesis 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. RELEVANCE There is a line in the movie Forrest Gump, the intention of which has an enormous impact on our lives. If you've watched the movie, the line comes at the end of his running period. He ran across America for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours after so much hurt and pain in his life. "Mama always said, you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that's what my running was all about." When he stopped running, with a crowd behind him, he turned around and said. "I'm pretty tired. I think I'll go home now." We all have pasts that need dealing with. Nobody escapes life issues. Not the rich and powerful nor the poor and powerless, or anyone in between. Forrest Gump dealt with his past, but the negative aspects still haunted him, such as his obvious autism, raised by a single mum, slow speech, etc. It all reminded him of who he was and is. None of it went away. Yet, once he processed it properly, he was able to deal with it. How well have you dealt with your past? Do certain memories or scenes haunt you or prevent you from being a better you? From moving forward in all areas of your life? Or are there places you don't go, groups you don't mix with, people you don't see on purpose, because your past dictates your present? You're afraid someone might point out a secret? The problem is not that we have the mistakes or deficiencies of our past, but that we think we're alone in our pain and hauntings. Ask around, and you'll find everybody has issues from the past. There are or have been haunting ghouls in even the seemingly successful. I have a past, you have a past, your next door neighbour has a past, the person three doors down has a past, rock stars and preachers have pasts, presidents, kings and prime ministers also have those things that make them feel small, useless, unlovable, less-than-adequate, or violated. But how do we move on when we have so much fear arising from those things that should be dead but are not? How do you think Reuben dealt with his past? Reuben, Jacob's firstborn! The son who brought his mother Leah the mandrakes to help her be loved by her husband. The same Reuben who saved Joseph from certain death at the hands of his other step-brothers. But he was also the Reuben that slept with his Father's concubine, something only the wretched do. As a consequence, he lost his birthright. Historical records show both the good things he did as well as that wrong thing. Does that sound like your subconscious? Reliving the good and bad things you've done, with the bad things becoming the headlines.
REUBEN'S HEADLINE I Chronicles 5:1a "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel:..." How many times would Reuben's foolishness have replayed in his head? The eldest of the family. How often did his brothers remind him of his culpability? How many years did he put up with the remarks? How many times did he want to crawl under a rock and never come out? God knows we all have inadequacies and wrongdoings in our past. Maybe a bit of Forrest Gump-ness and some our own stupid acts. But how can we confront them so they become a part of our testimony instead of a skeleton in our closet? How do we use them as a tool instead of remaining petrified of someone raising them? It's a mistake to bury them, thinking they will disappear. Some do, but others don't and never will. But they can become our stepping stones as we flip them over. Satan doesn't want us to untie ourselves from the fear, but God does. I think we must first recognise that they were a part of our lives. We'd love to erase them, but that won't happen unless we bury or rewrite history. Once we recognise and accept them as a part of our life story, we can cease the whitewashing. We need inner strength and brutal honesty with ourselves to accept the past. But once we do that, the Holy Spirit will help us be honest with others and become shameless and blameless. We don't need to share our flaws or past errors unnecessarily, but we are neither unprepared nor ashamed when they arise. Owning up to ourselves makes us real and allows our adverse history to impact others positively. PRAYER Dear Lord, I have past stuff hidden that I don't want anyone to hear about. That fear has me captive in certain areas of life. Please help me with courage to be open with myself and accept my shortcomings and failures. I want to be free.
Photo by Hadija Saidi