L P Hartley’s book “The Go Between” tells the story of a young boy in a Norfolk village who carried love letters between a rich girl and a man of poorer means, who her parents thoroughly disapproved of.
In the book, there is a very famous line, found in many books of quotations, that even now causes many of us to stop and think: “The past is another country, they do things differently there”.
How do you see the past? Frank Sinatra for one, famously sang: “Regrets I've had a few but then again too few to mention". There probably aren't many of us who can say the same. We think back to our past and sometimes shudder at what we've said or done or perhaps not done when our intervention would have made the outcome very different. Yes, like Frank Sinatra, at some time or another, we've all done it my way.
Some years ago I met George (not his real name) who as a teenager had clearly done things his way. He took drugs, drank himself stupid every week and walked into a life of petty crime. He burgled houses, shops and factories. He finally got caught only because he had stolen so much small change from a factory that he fell off the wall as he escaped and lay immobile on the ground - his pockets full of money - until the police came and hauled him away.
On leaving a young offenders institution, he was met at the gate by a man who took him into his home. When George got to the house he realised that he had burgled it some months before to feed his addictions. Over the days and weeks that followed the love and care that this family gave him, made such a difference that he was able to put his past behind him. Today he is a minister serving God in a powerful way in a deprived part of the country.
Whatever your past has been, what ever your present is, your future can be different. Will you allow God, as George did, to change you?
Lord God, fill up that which our lives have left behind. Help us to undo that which we have done amiss. Repair the places we have wasted, bind the hearts we have wounded. Dry the eyes which we have flooded. Make the evil we have done work for good, so that we ourselves would not know it.