So I teach this course called Stepping Into the Story. You may have heard of it. (But probably only if you’ve been here before.) It’s this very-small-group (3 plus me) course that meets once a week for 12 weeks via video, and together we dig back into our pasts to see where or how God has been present back then, even in the dark, leading us to where we are now, and giving us some tools and direction for where we’re going next.
Every time I teach it, participants come away grateful that they did it, amazed at how they encountered God, and/or months or even years later they tell me they’re still taking things away from that course that are impacting their lives now.
Also every time I teach it, it feels inordinately difficult to find even three people to sign up. For some reason this surprises me more as time goes on instead of less, because each “next time,” there are more people who have taken it, survived, and are talking about it with enthusiasm. But the fact is, most people would still rather not revisit their pasts. I get it. Most people have also experienced some degree of drama or trauma. Why would we want to reexamine that? Sometimes people bolster this understandable aversion to looking back with Bible verses (“forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” anyone?) and theology. I think there are also some solid biblical reasons for life-review in the company of God and trustworthy companions, but I had a little epiphany the other day about one more reason it might be hard to get motivated to join this course, and that’s what I want to talk about right now.
Every time I teach SITS, or promote it, for that matter, I talk about “what if God were there, even in the dark times”? Well. What if He were? Does that make the fact that you lived through those times better? Or worse? If He were there, and you still went through it, that must mean He didn’t do anything about it, right? Why would you want to find that out? What’s more, how could you continue to trust Him if you learned that He was?
I totally get it. Actually, I feel like I’ve had this question in the back of my own mind on your behalf for years now, even while promoting this class, and only this week did I finally turn around and face it by articulating it. Thing is, after facing the question, I really feel like it’s just another reason to take Stepping Into the Story. If you are leaving your past in God’s hands, but a part of you is doing it because it’s scary to contemplate what would happen to your relationship with Him if the past were in His hands all along, it might be time to get honest with Him about that. If you find yourself with doubts you can’t tell anyone else about, or stuck in an endless cycle of faulty life management tactics, it may well be because of an elephant in the room between you and God, called The Past.
I’ve found–from my own experience and that of others, too–the door on our past doesn’t ever really close. Definitely it doesn’t if we don’t have a “family meeting” with God and work through it together. But the past can begin to feel different, and impinge on us differently, if we do take our courage in both hands and have that family meeting. Fortunately, also at this particular family meeting? Are a few other honest-to-goodness ordinary human beings intent on shining our flashlights into the dark with you. You’d be amazed at the brilliance of the gold we’ll dig up together.
Stepping Into the Story, Friday afternoon edition, starts on Valentine’s Day. We’re still looking for our third person. I’m hoping also to hold a Wednesday evening edition, starting on 12 February. So far no one has signed up for that one, but…all we need are three of you. You can do this. We’re in this together.