Hi everyone. Rob here.
One of the fancy theological words we use to describe God is omnipresent – the ability to be everywhere, fully present, at the same time. This omnipresence extends to time. God is present in the past, the present and the future. This is important to know because the past has a habit of never staying in the past.
We see this at a national level. The confiscation of Maori land that happened in New Zealand 150 years ago remains a current issue. This is because the consequences of that action are still ongoing and are seen in the poor outcomes for Maori in health, education, crime statistics, income and so on.
We see it at a community level. Some places have never recovered from the day the local freezing works or sawmill or coal mine closed down. I’m dealing with it today at a church level. At a personal level we know the ongoing effects of abuse, insults, trauma, bullying, entitlement, poor decisions, drug or alcohol abuse and more. Whether victim, perpetrator or both, the past doesn’t stay in the past.
To say that God is fully present in the past can be a confusing statement. If God was present why didn’t he stop what happened to me or stop me from doing what I did?! Why didn’t he give me more wisdom (I ask that one a lot!) or more courage? But this is dead-end thinking. It goes nowhere. It also keeps the past in the present. God wants to help us interpret the past so we can move through the present into the future.
So we begin by asking God, where were you? Show me where you were in that situation, that moment? What did you see? We need God to reveal his goodness and love to us in those past situations. We also need to know that God was just and concerned. It would probably help to have an experienced counsellor, spiritual director or pastor to guide the process. A helpful tool could be the Sozo prayer style that puts you in touch with Father, Jesus and Spirit in a very helpful, personal way.
The goal is freedom: freedom from bitterness, hurt and rage, freedom from resentment, shame and condemnation. This has to involve forgiveness – receiving God’s forgiveness of us, forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. It also means laying down our resentment towards God and exchanging it for worship. But this can’t be fully achieved without God’s interpretation on things and his interpretation on us.
When I’ve made mistakes God has shown me my inexperience, my anxieties, my fears, my ego and my areas of shame. As a result he has brought deeper healing to those places. At other times he has shown me where others have fallen short due to their inexperience, anxieties etc. His interpretation is always filled with truth and grace; clarity and love; justice and goodness.
May we all be people who hear the shepherd’s voice.
Grace and peace.