Previously On (Insert Name Here)
Took a long lay off from blogging for a few reasons, not the least of which is a 4 year old recovering from strep throat on her birthday. It just doesn't seem right, does it? I want to talk about the past right now.
The story that brings us to the present moment.
We all have a past, things that have happened both good and bad, and that past is often something we run from. Something we'd like to lock up in a safe and drop it from a high-altitude plane into a remote area of the Black Sea, never to be seen again.
I think we may be too quick to send the past "bye-bye", and I'll tell you why.
It is nearly impossible to completely and fully confess our struggles and misfires to God without understanding the previous episodes of our story.
Reading Daniel 9 today, and Daniel is reflecting on the fact that Jeremiah's prophecy of when Judah's exile in Babylon would end has long since gone unfulfilled. He goes to God for answers, but he doesn't start by asking for information.
He starts with confession.
Not only that, confession on behalf of the whole NATION. We'd tell him today "You aren't in charge of other people, you can't be held accountable for anyone other than yourself." Daniel's smarter than that though, knowing that he's living in Babylon for a reason.
In other words: We're all in this together. Your past explosions send shrapnel into the present and through to the future.
So his confession includes the sins of "our ancestors" - people who lived well before him.
This is a full and brilliant confession because it realizes that sin is a big picture kind of thing - the ripples of consequences go on and on sometimes, charging into lives that you'd never think would be affected and bringing reactions that no one would ever expect. When Daniel calls this past to mind and throws it before God, he's acknowledging that we're all struggling in this battle and we all suffer for our corporate failures and we have a past that from the perspective of consequences is still very dangerous. The phrase "forgive me/us" is meaningless if we don't fully engage with what the past events look like.
When we confess to God, we need to remember the various elements of the story:
1. We need to remember how consequences of past failures affect the present, not just for us but for others. This isn't a point of guilt (we're free from guilt because of Jesus) but a place where God can teach us how following Jesus helps manage consequences.
2. We need to remember how God has brought us out in the past, as well. Daniel's prayer of confession in chapter 9 has a call for the God "who led us out of Egypt" to forgive and release them from exile. You've done it before God, you'll do it again.
What kind of confession are you making today? How are you following Jesus so as to work through the consequences of the past?