This is a time of year synonymous with new. Indeed, we frequently associate the first weeks of the year with phrases like new beginning, new start, new opportunity and new past.
I can picture the puzzled looks that followed reading “a new past” in the previous sentence. We affirm the reality of a new present and new future. After all, in Christ our present situation is made new. And new and future go hand in hand. But a new past is an oxymoron, a phrase that contains two opposite words like minor crisis, open secret, larger half and express checkout. Besides, hasn’t the past already happened?
Of course, the past has come and gone. Yet, a basic principle of Christian living is that in Christ, all things are made new. (See Isaiah 43:19, II Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 21:5).
Consider with me this biblical concept as it relates to time. Is it possible that “all things new” includes not only the present and future, but also the past?
Christ-followers respond to this question with a resounding yes! God not only forgives but also transforms our past, making it new. Like a loving artist, God incorporates those ugly places in our past into a lovely background, putting them into a whole new context that positively affects our present and future.
I invite you to consider today what needs to be made new in your past. Perhaps it is a deep regret that you would re-do if given the opportunity. Or maybe you made a life-changing choice that turned out okay, but it was less than God’s plan for your life. Sometimes the part of our past that needs to be made new has to do with a relationship, a job failure, a wrong path or any number of other aspects of life.
Across the years I have embraced the idea that in Christ my present and future is made new. However, I have not typically applied this to my past. Yet, Scripture teaches us that “all things are made new.” Since God is not limited by time, this includes not only our present and future, but also our past.
During this new year, may you enjoy not only a forgiven but also a new past!
As always, it is a joy to serve as your bishop.
Holston and North Alabama Conferences
The Reverend Dr. Debra Wallace-Padgett was elected a Bishop of the United Methodist Church at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. At the time of her election, she was the lead pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, ...