11-22-63

Some of you are old enough I am sure to recognize the date above. It was the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Certainly it was a day that brought the United States to a standstill. And the nation was undoubtedly changed because of the events on that day

That date is also a series of programs I just started watching. It is based on a book by Stephen King in which a young teacher is introduced to a worm hole located in the closet of a diner which leads to the year 1960. The owner of the diner convinces the teacher to go through the worm hole in an effort to prevent the assassination of the President.

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One of the cautions the owner gives the teacher is to be careful of the impact he has on the people of the time to which he traveled because the “past pushes back.”    The events of the past resist change. Once the pattern is established, any change can produce a push back that can result in more serious problems.

Boy, that owner of the diner must have heard my life story. I struggle with that push back almost every day of my life. Seeing the push back in just the first couple of episodes brought to mind not only the push back I experienced early on in recovery, but also present day shoves I experience as a result of attempted changes.

Immediately after the drinking stopped I felt the first push back with having to face some of those natural consequences about which I was told. There were the amends I needed to make to some people who were angry with me. I knew I needed to make the amends to everyone, even to those who were not so forgiving.  I knew these people were upset with me while I was drinking and treated me as such. That I understood. But now I was trying to set things right – push back.

My drinking was a perfect excuse to avoid any form of responsibility. I was used to not following through on anything. In fact while I was drinking, everyone anticipated I would not do anything. After the drinking stopped, others not only wanted me to follow up my words with actions, it became an expectation of me. But I found acting responsibly was not as easy as I remembered. And then it hit me – I had probably not been responsible in the past. Wham, push back.

As my recovery continues, push back still comes. Usually it is related to becoming aware of the shortfalls I still find in myself as a husband, father, grandfather or worker. I recognize the times I waste focusing on myself when I could rather be a loving and caring husband, father or grandfather. I fail to apply my gifts to being a better worker, the same talents I misused to sustain my drinking. But worst of all, memories of the times when I do not know the man (Matthew 26:69-74) glared in my life as I spurned the love of my Savior to live my life as I wanted – without him. Even now I can feel the same pull edging back into my life. Wham! Major push back.

It took me quite a while to figure out exactly how to deal with push back and it is still not a perfect art for me. Push back for me is always related to the past. At various times, my past actions or words raise their ugly heads and I feel a consequence. These consequences are very rarely positive. The resulting memories and emotions that come along with that consequence are what I understand as push back.

The real problem for me with push back is two fold. I feel the guilt of my actions in the past. I know that the drinking and flawed thinking patterns were much of the cause for my past. My feelings of guilt are still there. I also am burdened with the guilt of failure in the present. Until I believe what God tells us in Psalm 103, push back will continue to  harass me. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

What a powerful message. When my past comes roaring into my life; when my present shortcomings and failures stand in judgement over me and accuse me of still being that person I was during my drinking days, I can push back with the assurance that  God has forgiven me. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8. The result of Christ’s sacrifice is I am free; free from my past and from today’s failures.

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I do not need a worm hole to go back and change my past; Christ has done that already. In fact, his work did not just change it, he wiped it away. And my response – I change and keep on changing for Him.

Hope you come back again. I will wait you.

 

 

 

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