It was 1939, a beleaguered but vindicated Winston Churchill rose to speak in the House of Commons. Across the English Channel Nazi Germany, having already invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia, Abyssinia, and Albania, was now decimating Poland.
Churchill had forseen this. He had warned Parliament. No one listened.
Just a year earlier, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Germany with the Munich Agreement in his hand and these words on his lips, “peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”
Churchill was incensed. He said:
You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.
At that time, the House had “hooted and jeered and mocked” him. Like their Prime Minister, their passion for appeasement blinded them to the Nazi danger swirling around their island nation. Churchill biographer William Manchester writes:
He had anticipated this [potential danger] more than six years ago and never was a man more entitled to remind them that he had told him so. But his friends knew him incapable of that. “If we quarrel with the past,“ he had said, “we may lose the future.“
How easy and how often we quarrel with the past, whether that be chiding the mistakes of others or berating our own failures.
Churchill’s response got me thinking about God’s better way.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Philippians 3:13-15 ESV
Like Churchill, Paul’s gaze was always forward.
God forgives the past, should not I do the same? There is work to do, people to love, and a new day to approach. Letting go, looking ahead, and marching forward is a much wiser plan.
The words of Chamberlain and Churchill “peace with honour” and “You chose dishonour and you will have war,” can be found in many places. Notes for that exchange for this post can be found at Britannica.com, “Munich Agreement,” https://www.britannica.com/event/Munich-Agreement. Accessed December 3, 2018.
“At that time, the House had “hooted and jeered and mocked” him.” from William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone 1932-1940. Boston: Little Brown and Company. 1988. Page 538.
“He had anticipated this [potential danger] more than six years ago . . .” from Manchester, Alone, page 538.