I like old stuff. Always have. Dad’s aunt and uncle would escape the Utah winter and snow to stay in Santa Monica for several months each year, and I’d quietly listen to tales of much earlier frontier days. On the bike trips, old farms, barns, and houses entrance me. Two years ago we spent a few days in Deadwood, SD, where Wild Bill Hickok was killed, where Calamity Jane capered, and I was nearly in heaven. Last spring Sheila and I visited an old central California town. She headed for an antique store; I crossed the street to a hotel/bar about 120 years old.
So, when Roland Peachie, a friend from high school days, posted the pic above, the decaying barn first drew my attention. Large and imposing, it indicated a once large operation. Now, the roof has peeled back and blown off, the once straight roof lines sag. I’d go into it, but very cautiously. Decay has done its job. Useless, except for evocative photos.
Then I noticed the seven deer in the pasture, brunch time. What a paradox—the decaying past coupled with present life. And, what a metaphor for the spiritual life. Some issues from the past are decaying and need to be left behind in order to move into a better present life. But cast off too much and we risk losing our roots. How do we find a balance? Let me suggest three tips.
First, cast off beliefs that are less than full truths. We all have them. What our parents, schools, and society taught us. What we learned on our own. We can cherish them so much our progress stops. Evaluate them in light of what I think is the one source of absolute spiritual truth. Jesus. To fully explain this would take a book, but to me, the historical reliability of Jesus’ life, his death, burial, and resurrection form the core of truth to hold on to. Many non-essential matters of opinion can be cast off. Love the full truth so much you can’t stand anything less.
Second, unweight yourself of those behavioral patterns and habits that drag you down. I know mine, and I suppose you know yours just as well. Replace them with basking in the joy of knowing you can grow. It’s never too late to make these changes—at 70 I seem to see them better all the time.
Third, focusing on unforgiven sins from the past will decay our joy. I struggle with this—I’ve made enough mistakes that their memories make me feel inadequate to receive the love of a holy God, or to grow closer to him. We move into the present life when those memories slide in and we simply tell ourselves, “Yeah, I did that. It was bad. But that was the past, thanks for the reminder that in the present I’m forgiven.”
Some of our pasts bring spiritual decay, like the old barn. But we live in the present, like those seven grazing deer. Let’s live here.
Kick Starting the Discussion
How do you determine how to jettison some spiritual beliefs? What keeps you from doing some of that? What aspects of your past bring spiritual decay? What benefits in knowing Jesus would this change bring? Do you struggle with feeling forgiven, long after the sin? What can you personally do to move out of that past?