We all have a past. Maybe not as extreme as what we see sometimes on TV or in the movies, but we all have a story. A time that we wished we had made different decisions. A time that we wished we had chosen the high road. A time that we wish we had followed Jesus and not gone our own way.
I know when I look back on my life that is definitely the case. There are so many landmines that I stepped on that could have blown me to bits, but they didn’t. The only answer I have for that is the fact that I accepted Jesus into my heart as a young girl. That doesn’t mean that I followed him very closely during my teenage years. As a matter of fact I didn’t follow him until about 5 years ago. Yet he was always there watching, waiting, and protecting. He protected me from detours in those years that would have had lasting physical impacts. They still had emotional and spiritual consequences, but it could have been so much worse.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8
I think the hardest part for me was letting go of the shame and guilt that those mistakes seem to paste onto us like hot glue. Jesus doesn’t want that for us. I think sometimes we get caught up in the idea that those past mistakes define us. We can learn a lot of head knowledge about Jesus and his mercy and grace, but sometimes it doesn’t quite sink into our hearts. Some of us go to Bible studies, church, seminars, and retreats and have a lot of head knowledge. We know that we are forgiven. We know that our past is over and done with, and we know that Jesus doesn’t look at us in our dirty robes of shame and guilt. His word says that He replaces those with robes of righteousness…
He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robes of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels… Isaiah 61:10
But do we believe it? That is the transition that desperately needed to take place in my life and it took a long time to take Jesus at his word. It took a lot of time and trust to believe that He was a God of second, third, and sometimes hundreds of chances.
Jesus knows your past just like He knows mine. He knows the good, the bad and the ugly of all of it. How many times have we stood in what we think is the hot spotlight of condemnation in front of Him? How many times has the question crossed your mind, "Can he possibly forgive me for that?" Yet just as He did for me, He has done for you.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
If you have a past that is riddled with bad decisions, or if it is just one or two bad decisions, know that He doesn’t want to leave you there. He wants you to know that yes, those decisions were not what He would have wanted for you. Acknowledge them on a heart level with him and then turn from them. Leave the life of sin behind and strain forward to the abundant life that He wants for you. I think sometimes it isn’t about convincing those around us not to throw the first stone, it is about convincing ourselves. Taking a seat in the knowledge of the shame, regret and guilt is the scheme of the enemy. He wants you to stay in your head. Get out of your head and into the heart of Jesus. There is no condemnation there!
Sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 HCSB