Some of us live with a past we don't like. In Christ, we're new, and clean, and forgiven. But if we look back, there are choices we made we wish we could unmake. They don't define who we are are now—a new creation, free from condemnation—but we regret them with all our hearts.
I'm a part of that group of people.
There are seasons of my life that found me walking totally apart from God, making my own decisions, and leaving the consequences to chance. I don't like many of my choices from that season, and if I could go back and choose differently, I would.
But here I am, some fifteen years later, and the choices are what they are. And here you are, friend, with choices in your past that can't be undone either. So now what?
What do we do when our past haunts us? Where do we put all of those memories we wish we could forget?
Here are some things to remember if you're struggling with a past you can't change.
1. You're forgiven.
If you've followed Jesus with your life, and asked for forgiveness, it's yours. (Romans 4:7)
2. You're clean.
Sometimes the specific choices we made leave us feeling dirty, or unclean. When Jesus died, He made our sins white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)
3. You're not damaged goods.
When you place your faith in Christ's work on the cross, God goes to work restoring you, and bringing beauty from all the broken places of your life. (Isaiah 61:3)
4. God can still use you.
Take a minute and study Matthew 1:1-18. There are four women named in those verses other than Mary (Jesus' mother): an adulteress, a prostitute, a Moabite (whom the Jewish people hated), and a mistreated woman who slept with her father-n-law. Each of them brought a history of brokenness to the genealogy of Christ, and yet they are a part of the genealogy of Christ. There's no sin so big God can't redeem it and use it for His ultimate glory.
5. God loves you.
He gave His Son to prove it. (John 3:16)
6. Your value doesn't come from your past. It comes from Jesus.
You were made in the image of God, and Jesus purchased your forgiveness with His life. This makes you highly valuable to the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Genesis 1:27)
7. It's OK not to be perfect.
We don't have to strive for perfection. It isn't attainable, and if it was Jesus died for nothing. (Romans 7:13)
8. A sin is a sin.
If you've asked Jesus to forgive you, and cleanse you, your sin is no worse than anyone else's. (Romans 3:23)
9. Jesus chose to die for you, while you were in the midst of your sinful choices.
He knew what choice you would make, and He chose to die for you anyway. (Romans 5:8)
10. Let your shame take you to Jesus, not away from Him.
Shame tempts us to run and hide from the only person who can make things right. Don't let shame over your past keep you from experiencing the fullness God has for you in Christ. (Joel 2:25)
We can't change our past.
But we can live fully in the now God provides through relationship with Jesus—a now filled with the knowledge of His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption. We can let the knowledge of all He's forgiven us for keep us humble, and dependent upon Him for our lives. We can walk with our heads held high because of who He is and what He has done, releasing our failures to the one whose death and resurrection carries them all.
You belong to Him, friend. Believe these things, and have peace.
(Imagine "the Egyptians" of Exodus 14:13-14 below represent the sum total of all your sin and shameful past).
"And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
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Join me Tuesday as I start telling you the story behind my new, traditionally published book, Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most. It's a God-sized story, friends, and I've been wanting to share it with you for over a year now. Hope you'll join me!