I’ve taken care of the alcoholic patient who says, “I come by it naturally. Both of my parents drank.”
I’ve had the friend who said, “you don’t understand. My Dad left when I was a kid.”
Never realizing that I did understand. Can’t we all say in one way or another, me too.
I’ve had the women in my circle who feel powerless to life, as if what they’ve been dealt all along is all there is.
A young man born into poverty and gang-banging sees no way out of the hood.
A young girl from the trailer park doesn’t even try to do well in school. I mean, she’ll always be so-and-so’s kid, after all.
We believe in things like family tradition, genetics, predisposition, or karma, and while I believe something can “run in the family,” I’m also of the mind that my God is bigger.
We think our last name makes us who we are, or perhaps how we were raised. Yet anyone who has determined to become a different kind of parent than what raised them understands the power of change.
Things don’t have to be a certain way, just because that’s the way it’s always been. Anyone who has broken the chains of familial addiction, mental illness, and abuse can attest.
This morning my husband was reading the Old Testament (again), and as he’s prone to do, he spoke to me his observations as he read.
This morning he mused, “you know, it really doesn’t talk about Moses’s early life as an Egyptian.”
And he was right. It told the story of his sister placing him in the reed basket, how his mother was allowed to nurse him, and even how Pharaoh’s daughter named him. But then it skips to, “one day, after Moses had grown up…”
I answered my spouse, “that kinda proves that your past isn’t what defines you. It’s who God has you to become that matters.”
You see, Pharaoh’s daughter may have given Moses his name, but it was Mighty God who gave him a purpose. It was God who defined who he would be. He was to be the deliverer of his people from Egypt. It didn’t matter that he had been raised as an Egyptian. God had more for him.
I think what we forget in life is that God has more for us all, and even if we’re born as a Saul, Christ can meet us on a dusty road and make us a Paul. He can take an unwanted child and adopt them into His family. He can take a reject who has been called a loser and say, “no, you’re my beloved.”
We need to remember that in God’s story for us, perhaps some parts won’t be as noteworthy as we think. Our failures don’t have to follow us, and our mistakes don’t have to define us. Our family history doesn’t have to become our history, and the way things have always been can become no more.
A sinner can become a saint, an orphan, adopted, and the rejected redeemed. He can make all things new, and any thought that says otherwise is a flat out lie. Do you know who didn’t use their past as an excuse? Crack open the pages of your Bible and you’ll be overwhelmed by people who by the standards of the world would be all washed up, a lost cause, a regrettable faux pas. Joseph would have been an ex-con, or Peter a terrible friend. Rahab would have been labeled a dirty whore, or Mary, the mother of Jesus, an embarrassing teen mom. I’m certain that John the Baptist would have been at the weirdo table in the cafeteria, and David would never be able to hold his head up again in church on Sunday after that regrettable incident with Bathsheba.
I think it’s no coincidence that Moses’s high school yearbook it’s splashed throughout the beginning chapters of Exodus, or that a description of his name brand, Egyptian cotton duds aren’t dropped in the mix. It didn’t matter where he came from, but it did matter how God would use it for his good. In turn, it doesn’t matter what our unmentionable pages proclaim. It only matters what God is writing for our future, and how He can take us from an extra in Scene One, to a leading role in Act Three.
So, if your previous story is one you’d rather just forget, realize you’re in good company. God has a tendency to take the biggest misfits and make them masters, or to transform the cursed to blessed. He can raise the dead, so I’m certain He can pull any of us from the pit of our family story, whatever it may be. He says to the crippled, “walk,” and to the blind man, “see.” He can certainly edit our story for His glory. Just ask and see.