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The Puzzles of the Past

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

It was on Christmas morning 1980 that I discovered a Hungarian professor’s maddening invention beneath the holiday tree: Erno Rubik’s magic puzzle, the Rubik’s Cube. With a few twists I was hooked, but I never figured the thing out.

Despite my best efforts, I could only solve three sides at once. Finally, I gave up and peeled off those colorful stickers and reapplied them in the correct location. If I hadn’t given up, I might still be wasting my time, twisting and turning that infernal piece of plastic, attempting to sort out what could not be sorted.

There are some puzzles that cannot be solved. We don’t have the ability, and there is no cheating; no “peel-and-reapply” solutions. Death. Unjustified suffering. A silent heaven when we pray. Who hasn’t twisted and turned these things over in their mind, losing sleep and years in the process?

Most of these conundrums are captured in a single word: Yesterday. For every person wrestling with what is happening today, for every person anxious about what might happen tomorrow, there are a dozen people stuck in what happened yesterday. We take our past experiences and we work them over and over and over again, getting bogged down, wasting life.

Yet, time marches forward. We can’t keep returning to the past, attempting to solve what can no longer be solved, and live a free and peaceful life today. We have to let go of yesterday. Does this sound like quitting or like giving up?

Well, return to Rubik’s Cube. I find this impossible to believe, but according to Erno Rubik, there are 43 quintillion ways to scramble his Cube. So, if you turned the Cube one turn every second, it would take you nearly 1500 trillion years to go through every permutation! Viewed from this perspective, it makes perfect sense to give up on solving some of our problems, for we don’t have the time to obsess with unending analysis of how our lives could have been different.

Simply, there comes a day when we must put down our puzzles; a day to quit working so hard on what we cannot fix; a day to give up “all hope of a better past,” and start living again. We are granted only so many days among the living, so we had better spend those days living, not scrutinizing every twist and turn of our past.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


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