How your disciple remembers his past is more important than the actual events. He has a personal agenda, which not only determines how he will remember the past but also what he will remember from his past. He chooses which events to recall and which ones to forget, no matter how significant or insignificant the event may have been, in order to accomplish his aim. Israel conveniently forgets the parting of the Red Sea, one of the greatest miracles in the Bible, in their argument that God had neglected them; in contrast your disciple will harbor the hurt from a minuscule event such as of an unreturned text message from three years ago if it will serve his purpose.
The Godly characters from the Old Testament give us examples on how to remember the past. Although the facts of Joseph’s enslavement could not be change, he did have a choice in how he would remember his brothers selling him into slavery. The lens of doubt would have led him to despair, hatred, manipulation, and revenge whereas the lens of trust in the character of God led Joseph to peace, love, leadership, and forgiveness. Joseph was convinced that there was a larger purpose behind the betrayal by his brothers and his imprisonment. He did not seek to revenge the past nor change the events from his past but rather he placed them in the larger sequence of the purposeful sovereign acts of a loving God.
Once I had a disciple who sought to hold God hostage in order to manipulate him to change what had happened in his past. Though God redeems the past he does not change it and so he placed his relationship with God in an irreconcilable position. He had created a scenario where the only way his relationship with God could be restored is if God would change the events of his past. This position forced him to daily relive the pain of his past through the gate of his memory, which only increased his bitterness.
A couple of ideas in closing:
- We give an entire evening to each person being discipled to share his story with the whole group. Here different spiritual gifts can detect how the disciple remembers his past as well as discern what God’s purpose may be for his life.
- A priority for our ministry is to take the opportunity to meet the parents, siblings, and friends of each disciple to gain a complete perspective of his past.
- Help your disciple to look at his memories from the perspective of the sovereign purpose of God for his life.