January 22, 2016
Yesterday, someone questioned me about the theology in a past devotional. My first reaction was that I clearly made a mistake. I felt bad that I let so many people down and misinformed them. Upon further review, thankfully, I didn’t make a mistake and we processed his possible interpretations about what I wrote and how he read it. It was a great conversation and a positive learning experience for both of us.
As I think about my initial reaction of inadequacy, try as I may, I find that my brokenness and past sin are sometimes like a huge stone hanging around my neck. Carrying that stone causes guilt, shame, and weakness. At times it causes me to avoid certain opportunities and experiences. I know and believe I have been forgiven. But certain situations prompt an almost reflexive response and I struggle with laying down that stone and walking away from it. Many people share this very same struggle. Do you too?
Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible experiences for us. It’s true. We’ve all lost opportunities that will never return. But God can transform those mistakes and sins, as well as the destructive guilt and anxiety, into constructive thought and hope for a transforming future. We don’t have to hold onto distorted lenses from past wounds and mistakes. But we do have to look back and re-examine the past through Godly lenses. Letting God in heals our past. Then we have clear lenses to see ourselves, Him, and the daily experiences that He brings into our lives.
Trusting God’s forgiveness is a big, but difficult stretch for most, myself included. Receiving God’s forgiveness takes time. I had to work up to this huge step of trust by practicing, implementing, and applying trust in much smaller areas of life and in my relationship with God. Then it was easier for me to absorb His forgiveness in the bigger sin areas of my life. You can, too.
Trust Him when there is an illness … a flat tire … change of plans … someone else is in charge … a deadline is changed … a random bill arrives … protection for your children … uncertainty in our country … feeling unloved or valueless. Like any skill, starting small, practicing, and then stretching it can lead to powerful capabilities. Trust is the same way. Trusting in His power of forgiveness is one of the richest skills you can develop. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Jesus Christ.
Today, leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands. Step out into your invincible future with Him. Start by trusting Him, His agenda, promises, character, and instruction in three small situations today. You probably already do, but acknowledge and identify them to be sure you can do it. Then apply it to bigger, tougher areas tomorrow. Don’t think you can do it? The alternative is trusting yourself or this failed world. Whether you practice trusting Him and get better at it, or you continue trusting things that can never measure up to Him, is your decision so choose well.
Dear Mighty and Forgiving God, I can easily become paralyzed with shame, guilt, and fear over my past. I have hurt You … and I know I have hurt others. I am so thankful for Your promise of forgiveness – Thank You, Lord. I ask You, Father, to help me lay down the heavy stone of the past that I have been carrying. Let me remember and be accountable for my past brokenness and sin … but never stop moving toward You with freedom. I pray in the name of the one whom You sent to lift the burdens of my past, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. Jeremiah 33:8