January 7, 1979 was the day Vietnamese troops entered Cambodia ending four years of bloodshed and the start of Cambodian dependence on Vietnam. This is a day of mixed emotions, depending on the perspective of those involved. This marks a day of transition and can be difficult to explain.
This day caused me to reflect on significant questions regarding what we are to do with the past, perhaps even a past that is difficult to explain. How do we press on in victory without the feeling that we have been defeated?
- Recognize that one’s personal past has a significant influence on the development of life but a person is not a helpless victim whose manner of life is determined by his past.
- One is able to creatively interact with and interpret past events and incorporate his interpretation into his manner of life; however, one does not deconstruct his past so that it has no necessary existence in history. Just as God acts and explains or interprets His actions, in the same way one must interpret the actual events in his life because they occurred.
- The follower of Christ should interpret his past as coming from God and for God’s glory; conversely, the unbeliever will distort the event with an explanation that does not honor God’s truth, resisting the truth and believing a lie.
- One is not always aware of the assumptions, values, and habits which shape his manner of life. One must explore the past, finding help to reveal his manner of life to produce biblical change that is pleasing to God.
- Change occurs in the present, involving a “putting off” (repentance) from the distorted values and habits of a false manner of life, and a “putting on” of godly values and behavior patterns in the present. Change does not occur in the past through the reliving of past experiences or through emotional release of stored-up emotions (a process commonly called “catharsis”).
- God is sovereign over all the events of a person’s life and works providentially through those events to make Christians more like Christ.