Saturday, 5 July 2014

Locked in the Past – Shaped for the Future

The purported site where
King Robert killed an
English knight,
Sir Henry de Bohun,
with a blow to the
head with his axe
after a first engagement. 
A little more to share about the Scotland trip of a couple of weeks ago.  Part of my programme involved joining with other Christian sisters and brothers to pray on the eve of the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.  This gathering together was a profoundly spiritual occasion in my eyes.  I joined with other Christians from within Bannockburn and from outside with Scots and English among them.  This was not something decided on the spur of the moment but supported local Christians who had been praying for some considerable time.  For more about the Battle of Bannockburn itself try this

With this being the 700th anniversary of the Battle that the Scots won so convincingly much was made of the "celebrations". It was a landmark victory in many ways.  As such it has become something of a rallying point (mentally, spiritually, physically) over the years.  The occasion, the memories, the physical location (although there is no absolute certainty of location of actual battlegrounds) can be used quite divisively.

And so we met.  It was an intense time of prayer where those present offered special words of knowledge and spoke with prophetic voice.   I will not go into great detail of that save to say there was much confession, repentance and prayer for healing.  It is easy to split the Battle of Bannockburn along English and Scots lines, but the reality is this might have been more to do with two kings thirst for power with both having supporters from the other side.

A statue of Robert the Bruce that stands on the same site
I share something I felt was put into my heart and mind before we prayed and which I shared on that occasion.  There were three words I feel I was given – pain, anger, fear.  Now in the context of battle and war these are hardly surprising as relevant words so I am certainly not claiming very deep spiritual insight or discernment.  The interesting thing for me though is that the force of these words came to me not about the Battle of Bannockburn when it happened but about the feelings within people today earthed in the Battle of Bannockburn.  It was as if the feelings then still trapped people today and that this being trapped by feelings of the past prevented people moving into the future God had for them.

I recognise that with a vote on Scottish Independence not far away it would be very easy for me to try to manipulate these words and what I feel they represent into an argument for a particular vote on that occasion, but I actually feel that is not the point.  I think God was speaking of something far deeper and greater.  I think this was more to do with being united with God and joined with each other under him than a geographical territory vote.  It is when we are united with God and joined with each other in wholesome Godly relationship that we are most able to enter into the future God has planned for us.

We can stay trapped in the past in all sorts of ways.  We long for the days when Christians were respected more in the public sphere; we wish for the days of large Sunday Schools; we reminisce about the days when we sang good solid hymns and not this superficial chorus nonsense (these are just examples – please do not think I have a particular stance on them).  Or maybe living and being trapped by the past moves into our lives generally.  Perhaps we can still feel the pain of loss through bereavement, divorce, something that ended that we felt would never end, a missed opportunity where we feel aggrieved, or feelings of bitterness from something way back.  And again the sad thing is that when we are trapped by the feelings of the past in the today then we inhibit the future that can be ours.  Maybe for someone reading this today is the day of confession or healing from whatever it is in the past that holds us.  Maybe today is the day to ask God to help us let go so that the future can open up in a completely different way under God.  I pray so.

There are two hymns that are precious to me in this regard both of which may be appropriate to touch on here. One is “Lord for the years” by Timothy Dudley-Smith, the relevant verse being,

“Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us;
Self on the cross and Christ upon the throne;
Past put behind us, for the future take us;
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.”

The other is from Charles Wesley – “”This, this is the God we adore” which contains the verse,

“Tis Jesus, the first and the last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We’ll praise him for all that is past,
And trust him for all that’s to come.”

These can be difficult and challenging words but nonetheless worth reflecting on.

Just as being locked in the past can shape us (or maybe mis-shape) us for the future, so being released from the past can shape us for God’s future.  That’s the future I want.