Some questions are sometimes best followed by a question. I would ask the question, why do you ask? But since I can't ask it, let me launch into some other thoughts. Here's what we know, here is normal life, normal life with Christ, indeed. The past reaches into our presence. The good in our past, the good mentors, they reach into our present, continue to shape us. The benefits of a life that was somewhat settled as we were growing up. The past reaches into our present. We've had bad mentors even in our very own house. Life has been disrupted. We've lost people that we've loved, and the past reaches into the present and there are reminders every single day. Sometimes they are explosive intrusions that perhaps might become less frequent, but they continue to come.

I once wondered personally if when I got older, my entire day was going to be crying, because every single thing I encountered, whether it was a tree, a squirrel, a rabbit, a person, a conversation, an advertisement, every single thing would trigger some kind of difficult memory for the past, and I would just cry the entire day. Well, it looks like that's probably not going to happen. I'll just be crying at least a quarter of the day as I continue to get older. My point is that indeed the past reaches into the present for all of us.

Then what? Here’s what we know of our God. And it's true in Scripture and it's true certainly in my experience with those who have wrestled with PTSD. Exodus 34 is a full and rich statement of himself that God gives us. The context is when people were utter rascals—this was the Exodus experience and the people were moving into their idols—the Lord speaks of his faithfulness, and the next day they're going back to their idols. Here's how Exodus 34 begins. “The Lord, the Lord,” and the word for Lord is the one who was faithful to his promises. Even when we are not faithful, the compassionate and gracious God, this is how he leads in his self-revelation.

This is how he leads when you have these explosive intrusions of the past. This I believe is critical in the way we begin to hear God's words to us with the troubles that we have experienced. And my concern is this, that if somehow you label this as it's all my fault, and you're going to be tempted to do that, whether you have anything to do with it or not, my concern is that when it's all your fault, your conversation with the Lord will be quite short. It will simply be, I'm sorry, I don't know what to do, and how many times can you say, I'm sorry? But when you recognize that your God is the compassionate and gracious God, it leads to a longer conversation, and that's the way things are done in the house of God. The longer the conversation, the better. So you speak to the compassionate God, this is what's happened, and you might find him saying, well, tell me more, tell me more.

Then he speaks in return. And here's what you know that he says. The apostle Paul said, I've determined to know nothing but Christ in him crucified. This is his starting point for all the questions of life. Paul is going to start there, and it's a fine starting point because this is the culmination of Scripture. You speak from your heart about what has happened. The Lord speaks back to you and he speaks of a triune commitment to draw you close to himself. And in this triune the Father, Son, and Spirit, in their commitment, they will, through the blood of the Son, they will forgive sins. And in that forgiveness of sins, then nothing can separate you from him. You are no longer alone. And then the conversation continues. You respond, but ask the things that are on your heart. Your desire is to keep the conversation going as long as you possibly can, back and forth.

The question does identify an interest in confessing sin. Well, who would ever want to dissuade someone of confessing sin? To be a human being is to be a sinner. And the Sermon on the Mount talks about the Lord's Prayer, talks about confessing sin daily. But do this, if you want to confess sin, don't go back to the difficult, difficult moments in your past. Go back simply to today. Your discernment is going to be a little bit easier in the present. What have I done or what haven't I done? Your discernment is easier in the present, the past. So if you want to confess sin, confess it today, and even then, see what you can to keep the conversation going. You speak of your own sin and then he speaks of forgiveness of sins, and perhaps as the conversation continues, the last word there is, thank you, thank you. And then the conversation continues.

You can see PTSD is an occasion to engage with God as long as you can, and you want to do it longer the next day and even longer the next day. This is how things are done in this peculiar King's kingdom. Most kings, they don't go back and forth. This King invites you to speak from your heart.