By Roger Kruse
I find it interesting that even LeBron James makes it an important priority to maintain connection with his roots in Northeast Ohio. He often refers to himself as “just a kid from Akron.” He has not forgotten the humble, disadvantaged beginnings of his earliest years. As a result, he has invested generously in the the LeBron James Family Foundation. Part of that involves the “I Promise” school initiatives, encouraging and challenging kids to do their best and become all that they can be. Remembering where we came from can be an important part of moving forward and maintaining a healthy perspective on life.
How about you? Do you ever take time to think about your own journey? What experiences have most shaped your life for good and for bad? What have you learned? How has it helped make you the person you are today? Of course, some people would rather forget the past. When they look backwards, they see and even feel the painful memories of events or relationships that have left them deeply affected. Unfortunately, there are those who are “stuck” in their past and struggle to get free of related hurts and attitudes that linger. Instead of allowing negative life experiences to help make them a “better” person, they may become a “bitter” one. Counselors can sometimes assist us in the processing of our past, but healing is neither easy nor automatic.
It is not unusual for God to get the blame for the hurt that has touched our lives. “If the Lord is indeed loving,” we reason, “why did He allow pain to come into my life? Where was God when I was subjected to circumstances that brought me so much heartache?” The truth is, God loves us unconditionally and deeply feels our suffering. Nevertheless, in a world where human beings have the freedom to choose and act, bad things can and do happen. But the Lord wants to come alongside of us and touch us with His tender care. In the Gospels, we see Jesus was always imparting healing to those who needed and wanted his grace. Even today, He specializes in transforming our brokenness into wholeness.
I like the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been disabled for 38 years. When Jesus learned that he had been in this condition for such a long time, He asked him an unusual question. “Do you want to get well?” You would think that would be obvious. However, healing has to begin with a real desire and accompanying faith to invite God to do His special work. We can hinder, or even block, God’s power to help us by becoming mired in our circumstances. We may be locked in a self-imposed prison of self-pity, or caught in the grip of a passive acceptance of circumstances we view as beyond our ability to ever change.
Your past need not hinder your present. The Lord promises that “in all things He works for the good of those who love Him.” In other words, God can weave His healing strands of grace into the tapestry of our lives. The pattern God has in mind for us is something unique and beautiful. With the touches of His love, Christ can set us free from a painful past. Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will really be free.” Let freedom ring from within your heart!
This 4th of July, America celebrates 243 years of freedom. We are a blessed and privileged people! Let us remember to give thanks to God and to pray for our nation.
Roger Kruse serves with One Mission Society as an International Shepherd/Trainer to South East Asia. He, his wife Glenda and family love the rural lifestyle of the Middlefield area.