If I were your enemy, I’d constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices. I’d want to keep you burdened by shame and guilt, in hopes that you’ll feel incapacitated by your many failings and see no point in even trying again. I’d work to convince you that you’ve had your chance and blown it—that your God may be able to forgive some people for some things, but not you . . . not for this.
I have never tried to shy away from my past. In fact, I’ve been pretty open and honest about all of it throughout the course of this blog. My testimony, I’ve learned, is one of the most powerful witnessing tools that I have ever been given. If you aren’t familiar with my story, you’re welcome to pop over and check it out. I went from a perfect, do-no-wrong-child to one who did some of everything wrong from alcoholism and flunking out of college (college that was completely paid for) to depression and thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Believe me. I’ve been there. There is nothing that you could tell me that you had done that I could judge because I have most likely done it too.
No one wants to hear anything that someone who did the things that you did has to say. No one wants to listen to you. You’re a failure. A hypocrite. You’re just like those people that you strive to be different from. You’re not any different from any of the ones who act high and mighty and then talk about God…because YOU. ARE. A. FAILURE.
Sound familiar? Those are some of the thoughts that run rampant through my mind whenever I can tell I’m beginning to either A) grow closer to God spiritually or B) walk down the path toward the things in my life that God has eternally prepared for me.
The enemy likes to use our past, our failures, to keep us stuck. If we move past our mistakes we might do something that hinders HIS plan…like offer hope. Offer a reminder that God doesn’t live in the past and our sins-all of our sins: past, present and future– have been washed clean. The very moment that we commit to living a life for Christ, all of those stupid mistakes are washed away. So are the stupid mistakes we have yet to make.
More than anything the enemy likes to hold our past over our head because we may USE it. We may find to freedom that comes in Christ from our mistakes and screw ups and help someone else avoid that. I remember several years ago I was asked to give my testimony at a girls youth sleepover. There were probably 35-40 teenage girls, ranging from young teens (13ish) to older girls (18-19). I was terrified. Here I was, a church girl (lady?) who spent my time helping in the nursery and a mama to a little boy and a wife and all of these other things. I was one of those people who wasn’t supposed to have made any mistakes. And the ones that I made, I wasn’t supposed to actually talk about.
I can be a bit…ahem….long winded (something that I will have to work on in the future if I ever have the opportunity to speak in public) and I was really starting to wonder if anyone was listening to me. Then, after my time was up, I had a girl walk up to me and say something really simple that I have never forgotten about:
I just want you to know how much your testimony meant to me. I just want to thank you for being so honest. It means more to me than you know.
This girl was around 14ish at the time. She’s in college now and we are able to still keep in touch through Facebook. She may not even remember that night or that testimony, but I do. It’s one of the moments in my life that God reminded me that I don’t have to be ashamed of the mistakes that I have made. I will always make mistakes. I will always screw up and there a million and one things in my life that I would gladly go back and undo if I could.
With each mistake comes a new chance for me to watch God’s grace and mercy prevail.
One of the qualities that makes the gospel so real and so great is that it doesn’t eliminate our past but just so thoroughly deals with it. God forgives it. He changes it. He transforms all that mess into this HUGE mountain of grace that only takes us higher and closer to him. So now, instead of being a reason for endless shame, guilt and regret, our past is a reason for endless worship and free-flowing testimony (pg. 99).
The only person living in the past is God. And he’s only living in the past of what his son Jesus Christ did for you and for me. Our mistakes? Those aren’t even a blip on his radar They became a moot point the day that Jesus hung on that cross, bloody arms outstretched, and uttered the greatest three words in all of history:
Friends, I want to encourage you today, if you are still struggling with something in your past…a sin or a mistakes or regret or whatever it may be, don’t let it think that you aren’t enough for Jesus. You ARE enough. I would love to pray for you. Please let me know if you need to talk to someone or just need someone to listen. My email is always open. Also, we are still a very long way from our $3500 financial goal. Would you consider donating if you haven’t already? Please spread the word. We are trusting that God will provide, but your help is always appreciated!