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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Time in proper perspective: What the Bible says about the past

Getting time into proper perspective is one way to live life well.  “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” prays Moses in Psalm 90:12. Modern society is hustled by time: we feel the burden of it in ways that generations before us haven’t. And despite all our priorities for “saving time,” we are oriented in all the wrong ways toward it: we may save our minutes, but is this any guarantee that we aren’t wasting our years? What does the Bible have to say about time, and what does this mean for a New Year? Today, I’ll consider what the Bible has to say about the past.

In Biblical time, the past only matters as a record of God’s faithfulness. We aren’t meant to live tethered to our yesterdays, especially when they become for us a source of self-accusation.

The long list of our past failures – the record of the moral debt that we all owe to God and to neighbor – is, if we are in Christ, nailed to the cross from which He hung. This is immensely good news. 2012 is under our feet, and if we want to look back, it should not be to rehearse our sins and tear open the wounds of guilt, which the Scriptures teach Someone has died to heal:

“[Jesus Christ] wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities and upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.

By his stripes we are healed.”

Because of Christ, God’s memory is deliberately short when it comes to keeping record of what it is we owe Him (Psalm 103:11, 12). And if God chooses to erase yesterday’s record, why would we insist upon rewriting it?

No, the only real reason to look back is to rehearse the acts of grace. God has been faithful, active, and present in the past. And this is always true, whether we believe it or not, feel it or not.

2012 may have carried with it some unwelcome news, a host of disappointments, even deep and profound sadness. It may seem like the biggest leap of faith to proclaim the presence of God in a year of barren darkness.

But it is always by faith that we proclaim God’s redemptive work.

And if 2012 has inaugurated a season of joy, if the past year has ushered in accomplishments, answered prayers, new friendships and more blessed change, may we each with gratitude receive the good gifts, which to us from Above have fallen.

Because whether life has been good to us or not in the past year, it is by faith that we embrace and proclaim the goodness of God.

“You are good, and what you do is good,” (Psalm 119:68).

This is the theological certainty we need for all dimensions of time.