June 19, 2013
How to Get Past Your Past
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13, NIV).
Friend to Friend
When some of us think of the past, we remember the good old days when everything was better, simpler, cheaper and easier. Some people would like to erase their past while others long to revisit it. I believe memory is one of God's best gifts to us. Someone once said, "Memory can be a wonderful treasure chest for those who know how to pack it."
If we want victory today and hope for tomorrow, we must learn how to deal with our past, because it is unchangeable. While we cannot go back and change our past, we can change our response to our past.
When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, she was very much like me in many ways, particularly in her approach to morning. We both hated it! And that has not changed! I was always coming up with some way to lure her out of bed each morning. It was not an easy task. One of my staple temptations was Peanut Butter Captain Crunch Cereal. It was her favorite.
One morning, Danna was moving very slowly and my patience was quickly growing thin. In my most cheerful voice, I called, "Danna, it's time to eat." I poured the cereal into her favorite bowl and was adding the milk when I heard her call from her bedroom, "Mom, don't pour the milk yet." Too late! Maybe she wouldn't notice.
A minute later, Danna bounced into the kitchen, a smile on her face. She took one look at the cereal, turned around, and announced, "I cannot eat that!" With as much calm as I could muster, I asked, "What is wrong with this cereal?" Danna slowly turned and slowly said, "Mama, when you pour the milk too early, Captain Cwunch gets soggy. And you can't get the cwunch back!"
The past is much the same. We cannot change it - no matter how hard we try to bury, ignore or wish it away. We are left with a choice to make. We can either allow the past to defeat us, or we can learn how to harness it and use it for good in our lives today. How? For the answer to that question, let’s take a look at one of my favorite people in the Bible - David.
David was a man with quite a past. David was the golden boy. He was a shepherd boy, a giant killer and a general and a king. He was also a singer, a poet and author, a husband and father, and a very religious man. David was special to God.
At first glance, David doesn't sound like a man who could be guilty of adultery, murder, hypocrisy, or lust ... and the ugly list goes on. A man who is special to God would more likely be described as proper, cautious, discreet and very godly.
David first spotted Bathsheba while she was taking a bath on the roof of her home. David forgot who he was and whose he was ... and slept with Bathsheba. It gets worse. He sent her husband to the front lines where David knew he would be killed, and then David moved in with Bathsheba. They had kids and pretended that everything was wonderful. Inside, David was dying.
David lost weight, groaned in pain and was always exhausted (Psalm 32). Then God told on him. Everyone found out what David had done, and his life fell apart. David's people no longer trusted him. One child died. His son turned against him, pushed him off the throne and took over. Then this son, Absalom, was killed ... and David was done. He cried out to God in total repentance, "Lord, I have sinned." David then confessed his sin to everyone involved and turned away from that sin.
God forgave him, his health returned, and David was given back his throne. While David lost some things forever, restoration came to his life, and after all of this, God says David “is a man after my own heart."
Frankly, the first time I read the story of David, I was amazed. After all David had done, how could he find favor with God?
God is drawn to broken people. God always works best through broken people. He entrusts His deepest truths to the most wounded and desperate people as those truths fall through the broken places, finding a place to rest and grow.
A Bible teacher was teaching through the book of Deuteronomy when she came to Deuteronomy 6:6 "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." One student asked, "Why does this verse tell us to put God's promises "upon" our hearts instead of "in" our hearts?" The wise teacher responded, "It is not within our own power to place God's truth in our hearts. We must simply place that truth on our heart until it is broken. Then the truths can fall through the broken places, take root and grow."
The desire of God's heart is never condemnation. It is always restoration. David learned how to get past his past. So can we.
Father, I now surrender my past to You. Please heal the broken places and bring restoration to my life. I now lay down the sin I have cherished for so long and accept Your forgiveness. Help me harness the power of my past to live for You.
In Jesus’s name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Ask God to show you anything in your past that has become a foothold of darkness in your life today. Face it. Deal with it, and let it go.
Read Romans 8:28 What good things has God brought out of the pain in your past? Is your faith stronger? Have you been able to encourage others who have experienced that same pain? I would love to hear your story. E-mail me or connect with me on Facebook.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help dealing with your past? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, How to Get Past Your Past. And be sure to check out Mary’s NEW weekly Online Bible Study, From a Mess to a Miracle, beginning July 8. Enroll now and have access to all 2013 lessons.
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