Needing Your Past

      Comments Off on Needing Your Past

In his 1970 book Habitation of Dragons, Keith Miller tells about a memorable conversation in a small group of adults who were struggling to learn how to follow Jesus.

As part of a get-acquainted exercise, each member shared something about his or her childhood.  Miller writes:

“One older lady had had a good many disappointments and seemed bitter about her past.  Then it was Alice’s turn.  She spoke to us hesitantly.

When I was a tiny little girl, I was put into an orphanage.  I was not pretty at all, and no one wanted me.  But I can recall longing to be adopted and loved by a family as far back as I can remember.

I thought about it day and night.  But everything I did seemed to go wrong.  I tried too hard to please everybody who came to look me over, and all I did was drive people away.

Then one day the head of the orphanage told me a family was going to come and take me home with them.  I was so excited, I jumped up and down and cried.  The matron reminded me that I was on trial and that it might not be a permanent arrangement.  But I just knew it would be.

So I went with this family and started to school in their town – a very happy little girl.  And life began to open for me, just a little.

But one day, a few months later, I skipped home from school and ran in the front door of the big old house we lived in.  No one was at home, but there was my battered old suitcase with my little coat thrown over it.  As I stood there and looked at that suitcase, it slowly dawned on me what it meant.  They didn’t want me.  And I hadn’t even suspected.

“Alice stopped speaking for a moment, but we didn’t notice.  We were standing in that front hall with the tall ceiling, looking at the battered suitcase and trying not to cry.  Then Alice cleared her throat and said almost matter-of-factly, ‘That happened to me seven times before I was 13 years old.’

“I looked at this tall, 40-year-old, gray-haired woman sitting across the room and wept.  I had just met Alice, but I found myself loving her and feeling a great compassion for her.  She looked up, surprised and touched at what had happened to us as we had responded to her story.  But she held up her hand and shook her head slightly, in a gesture to stop us from feeling sorry for her.

“’Don’t,’ she said with a genuinely happy smile.  ‘I needed my past.  You see – it brought me to God.’”

By God’s grace, no matter what your past, it might be just what you need.

After all, it brought you to this moment. 

And this is an extraordinary moment to connect with God.