One of the most powerful forces in the world is guilt. Sadly many of us never get through our guilt to live a more powerful life of GRACE. We carry our past with us and are deeply wounded by it. This week I had a conversation with a person I will call Joe. Joe is in a very bad spot. His wife left him over 10 years ago and he still hasn’t chosen to give his regret and pain over to Jesus. As I prayed with him, I could feel the tension and pain that came with holding on to his past divorce and the ways his kids are suffering. He didn’t do the cheating but he still carries the INCREDIBLE WEIGHT and hurt that comes from this broken relationship. He won’t give it to Jesus. But as I prayed for him I could feel Him take a baby step in the right direction. Ultimately, giving the past to God is Joe’s choice. Jesus won’t make you give him your past, it’s up to you.
It’s time to let your IDENTITY in Jesus define you rather than your past or current circumstances…
“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13-14
I don’t think this will be easy for you, nor will it feel comfortable at first, but it is definitely the most courageous decision you will ever make. The person who wrote that passage above was a murderer, a cold blooded murder. He had committed the most egregious of sins known to man. Somehow, someway Paul let Jesus redefine him and mark him as a man who was powerfully called, crafted and created to do one thing: Give his life WHOLLY to the Gospel and it’s transforming power. If a murderer can do it, you can too.
5 Ways to Overcome Your Past…
#1 Pray – I know you are reading this thinking, I already have and my heart isn’t changed. Sometimes it takes time to change our hearts. Letting go of how people have hurt us can only be first dealt with through knowing how HE as already HEALED us. That is past, present AND future tense. We think of our sin as a linear pathway, Jesus sees it all as a wholistic picture of life that is a mist before us. (James 4:14) Our first response to any and every guilt, hurt, pain, suffering, abandonment, rebellion or self inflicted torture is to PRAY. Someone reading this just needs to know that Jesus is listening. He hears you. When you pray with the faith of a hearing God, wait for it, progress will come…
QUESTION: What is keeping you from praying?
#2 Depend – What are you depending on? Are you depending on your own strength to get through your pain, or the power and person of the Gospel who has already promised to take your pain? So many times we try and go through life self sufficient. The more the enemy can make you think you can get through something alone, the longer you will stay imprisoned to your past. Sometimes we even ask for help, but we don’t really want to move on. We merely want someone to pity us in our pain. 100% dependence on Jesus will heal you.
QUESTION: What are you substituting for dependence on Jesus?
#3 Forgive – In Jesus’ deepest moment of pain he prayed this, “father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus pleads with His Father to forgive. Jesus set and example in forgiveness even when He did nothing wrong. If we expect Jesus to forgive us we must be willing to forgive others. This isn’t normal behavior, but it is Gospel driven behavior. This won’t be simple but we must do it out of obedience because it’s what he has commanded us to do. But once again, the choice is up to you. No one can make you forgive. Your future is resting in your hands.
QUESTION: Who is someone you have not forgiven?
#4 Trust – Others. You need the church. You need to believe in others. LET OTHERS HELP YOU. Talk it out and have people pray for you. Get professional counseling. I’m not suggesting you bring everyone into the process, but you must learn to trust a few selected people who have your back. This is a lofty proposition if you are deeply wounded because you don’t want the same thing to happen again. You must let people help you or the bitterness and pain will be greater as the months and even years pass. Jesus created us for relationships and set and example of loving and encouraging one another. You need people who will tell you the truth and people who will let you cry, yell, scream, grieve, no holding back.
QUESTION: Who is one person you can trust?
#5 Rest – Even saying this word will transform you. Jesus is sufficient to give us peace to allow us to rest in Him. Maybe you need a forced time away with God? Running from your past prevents you from dealing with your future. Isn’t it time to rest? Matthew 11:29-30 says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
God isn’t finished with Joe yet. God isn’t finished with you either. I’m not sure where you are at with letting go of your past, but when you choose to, Jesus will set you free. It’s what he promised…
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