Last night, I finished Stephen King’s “11/22/63.” It’s the first book I finished on my new Kindle and I’m not sure I would have read it so quickly in another format. It’s hard to take an 849 page book to the gym or on a road trip, I’ve found. It’s quite a book, and according to King himself, he’s been thinking about writing it for decades. If you’re a reader, I’d recommend it (and no worries if you’re not a horror fan–it’s one of King’s pieces that doesn’t make you want to hide under the covers!
No spoilers here, but the premise of the book is: What if you could go back in time and change something that happened? What if you could stop a young mother and almost all of her children from being murdered on Halloween night in 1958? What if you could stop a young girl from being paralyzed in a hunting accident later that same year? What if you could be in Dallas on the days leading up to November 22, 1963 and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting John. F. Kennedy?
If JFK were not murdered, would Bobby Kennedy have lived as well? What about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? What about Vietnam? …9/11?
There’s no saying for sure what would have happened if Lee Oswald had missed…or been killed before that day in Dallas. But it can be said that the events that took place that day did change history in many ways. Some were bad and some were good and there’s no going back with an eraser anyway.
We can all probably look back at history–world history and our own personal histories–and see places we would like to erase or change. Forks in the road where we could have chosen another path. People that we should have been more guarded against. Events that we wish we could stop in time. Places we never would have gone.
I think about my own life. Do I have any regrets? Maybe. If I could erase parts of my history that were painful and difficult, would I? Maybe. But maybe not. Of course I have a long list of mistakes I’ve made from things I’ve said that I wish I could take back to some really dumb decisions I made for my life. I suppose there are things I regret.
But as I now sit far removed from the situations that once caused so much grief and heartache…I realize that these are the situations that made me who I am.
I think about Joseph, beloved son of Jacob and grandson of Isaac in the Old Testament. I think of all of the hell he went through because his brothers were jealous of him and wanted to get rid of him. I think of the maturity and knowledge that caused him to eventually say to the same brothers: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today (Genesis 50:20).”
One of the most hopeful things for me is that I completely believe that God can take the worst situation and cause good to come from it. It’s what I cling to when things are bad in my own life or when a friend or loved one is facing a hard situation. Hold on, something good will come in all of this or of all of this.
But still, I wonder what I would do if I could go back and change the bad things and erase the mistakes.
If you could change the past, would you?