The Master Key To Every Kingdom: Grace
III — The Forgotten Past
Living in the present means, of course, that those who look to Grace forget the past, or at least the “past imperfect,” and all its troublous facts. This past must they leave behind them if they are going to know the divine freedom of Grace-full living in today.
Very familiar is the expression “settling down” in life. Frequently it indicates that a person intends to settle down in a rut, a certain rather dull pattern of existence, which he feels is inescapable now as a result of what he has, or more often has not, accomplished formerly. He looks back over the years that have gone and thinks, “Well, this is where they’ve brought me. Maybe if I hadn’t done thus and so, or had done that or the other, I’d be situated differently today. I certainly made a mistake in not accepting so and so’s offer in ’thirty-six. And what a ‘dumb cluck’ I was not to realize where following J’s advice would land me! Well, here I am and no use complaining about it. I’ll pay my just debts to life and settle down and make the best of it.”
If only people could realize that they never “make the best of it” by settling down to acceptance of consequences of past ignorant or willful “unfinished business”; that for the consciously beloved there is an entirely different attitude. They do not settle down in life. They settle up in life.
We settle up in life by sitting up and taking notice that to the indwelling Comforter there is no past, that life is lived in the present moment alone, that expression and its effect, experience, take place now and now only; and if the present expression is perfect, the imperfect past is dissolved as an active apd repercussory agent in our life. It cannot continue to operate in the now when its operation has been superseded by a different expression from a better state of consciousness. Two contrary states of soul cannot possess the same soul at the same time. The states of mind, and feeling, that dominate now determine the result, the experience, now. The present perfect cancels out the past imperfect. When ghosts of former failings would try now to haunt them, those who know the love of Father and of Son Apparent say: Ah! But that was yesterday.
And perhaps the past was not always so imperfect as it now appears. We should think of that too. Perhaps accepting so and so’s offer in ’thirty-six would have situated us in a less comfortable spot than that in which we now seem to be. Perhaps our not following J’s advice would have landed us in a worse predicament than our following it did. Who knows? Much better is it philosophically to agree with Robert Browning’s lover in “The Last Ride Together”:
“Had I done that, had I done this,
So might I gain, so might I miss,”
and then go higher: But if I missed, it does not matter now. Through the Comforter in me, mistakes and consequences of mistakes are wiped out. “Behold, I make all things new”—and better—best. Behold, 1 change you from vassal of the past to master of the present. Behold, through me, your “nighthood of belief in evil with its weary retribution is no more, but blossoms forth in ivhitest glory. Behold, through the burgeoning of my Knighthood now in you, your “nighthood” is in flower.
So, what facts of “debts” to life shall the beloved of the Father and the Son Apparent ever carry with them? What consequence of “sins” in this or former lives if any shall be now their burden? Most emphatically they hear the Comforter indwelling: Ye have heard the truth that frees; go now in peace and joy and ease.
Shall they be like one “unfinished” soul who firmly once declared,
“My debts are great in number.
In lives gone by I’ve sinned,
So much that now I shudder.
’Twill take many lives in future To sew up this suture.”
“Then really you don’t believe,”
Came a wondering reply,
“That ‘Jesus saves’ and saves now Even such as you and I?”
For an instant she was startled,
Sun shone misty in her sky.
Then clouds of “debts” rolled over,
The dark again engulfed her.
“That may be for others,
But to me it can’t apply.
I have many debts to pay—
Sins too terrible to word.”
And forth she went a martyr;
Having ears, she had not heard.
And as the other watched her,
A picture formed in mind:
A swarm of debts encircled,
Blackly clung about her head;
A cloud of sins like vultures, Quickly preying on the dead.
“The dead?” Of course, whom else Do vultures circle and devour?
Only those of darkness,
Dead to Him indwelling,
Who in self-made fate that’s dour Know not that He’s saved them—
Having heard, they hear not:
“Tho’ your sins be scarlet By Him they now are whitened,
Lo, in this self-same hour.
So go now wholly lightened;
Your ‘nighthood’ is in flower.”
© 1947, Crichton Russ Boatwright