Day after day we hear stories of victimization, violence, abuse, and bad choices which have negatively impacted people’s lives. The stories we read in the headlines aren’t any different than the stories in God’s Word. Rahab is on the list of women whose past could have permanently defined her. Other women include Eve, Sarah, Bathsheba, Tamar, Naomi, and Ruth.
Question 1) Does your past story define you? Or are you letting your present and future story define you?
Past Story- Our past is a mess of good things and horrible things. Paul tells us our past story began:
Ephesians 1:4-5 “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”
Question 2) How does your story of being chosen and predestined for adoption have to do with past victimization, rejection, or bad decisions?
- It does not minimize it. Rather it shows the vivid sin which is against God and his original intent.
- It counterbalances our past with God’s story of love, grace and evil and misery which will not ultimately win. Every retelling of your story adds more weight to the master story.
- Praise God his love for us is not dependent on our wavering faith or our choices we made long ago.
Present Story- God’s persistent love from the beginning to our present age moves to redemption and forgiveness of sins to the present. Lavish grace needs to be the center of our present story.
Ephesians 1:7-9 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose.”
Questions 3) Do you believe your past sins are too big for God to forgive? Do you let your past define your present?
Well-meaning friends may offer unsolicited advice, “Get over it!” “Move on!” “The past is gone!” but their words hurt. Do your past sins haunt you? With God’s help, there is healing from the past.
Biblical principles from God’s Word to let go of the past and move to the future:
- See yourself as God sees you! When Jesus took our sin at the cross and we accept that payment for our own sins, God then see us as believers. Just the same as he sees Jesus as sinless, as if we have always obeyed. Romans 3:24
- Place GRACE beside every destructive thought and negative reminder from the past which threatens you. Satan loves to remind us of our mess-ups. It’s God’s grace beside those thoughts which allow us to cry out to God in thanks for his grace which brings healing from our past. Ephesians 2:5-8, Hebrews 4:16, 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Mediate on the healing truth in God’s Word daily. God’s Word does not return void, it is our offence and defense to press on to a victorious life. Joshua 1:8, 2 Tim 3:16-17
- Forgive as Jesus has forgiven you. If you desire God’s grace and forgiveness to be active in your life, you must learn to give grace and forgive yourself and others. Col 3:13, Prov. 24:16
- Keep moving forward by anticipating something today and something tomorrow. In the mundane of life, change your outlook by focusing on the joy in what you do, and in doing something for others. Plant a garden, have coffee with Jesus, lunch with a good friend, write thank you notes, journal God’s blessings, or some other attainable goal.
Practical suggestions to let go of the past and move to the future:
- Realize you have a choice
- Know who travels with you- God has is right beside you, trust in his power, wisdom and love.
- Recognize the difference between learning from the past and letting it control you.
- Seek deliverance from parts of your past you’re struggling to let go.
- Avoid nostalgia
- Seek healing for a broken heart. Don’t try to numb it with alcohol, drugs, denying feelings, distraction, or rebounding to another relationship to fill the void.
- Overcome failure. Only God can restore strength, hope and confidence from condemnation, guilt, regret, and self-inflicted punishment.
- Break free of trauma’s chains. God’s Word is like a surgeon with a scalpel to bring healing to the soul.
- Get rid of the poison of bitterness. Forgiveness does not depend on what you consider fair, reasonable or just-it’s a matter of being faithful to God.
- Let go of unhealthy attachments.
- Rely on God’s strength to get you through stormy crossings. Expect a struggle as the “thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” John 10:10
- Encourage others.
- Fulfill your potential.
Future Story- Praise be to God! For those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior, our master story ends well as it is a story of hope.
Ephesians 1:9-14 summarized- A plan has been set forth in Jesus Christ, a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him you, when you believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
- The master story is for King Jesus to restore us and creation back to himself
- We will be brought into God’s plan to restore justice, beauty, reconciliation and mercy.
- When we daily participate in the master story by simple acts of love which echo God’s justice, beauty, reconciliation, and mercy we are participating in his kingdom plan.
- Hope knows the love of Jesus and grows in confidence that all the promises God makes have already been yes in Jesus.
Remember that your past does not determine your future. Invite God to help you understand His purposes for your life and give you a vision for the new adventures He has in store for you. Realize your greatest potential can only be realized in and through Jesus. Decide today to be a part of the master story.
Welsh, Edward T. . 2015, August 14. What Ephesians Teachers Us About Our Past, Present & Future. https://www.crossway.org/articles/what-ephesians-teaches-us-about-our-past-present-and-future
Hopler, Whitney. 2006, Jun 27. Let Go of the Past to Move into the Future. https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/let-go-of-the-past-to-move-into-the-future-1404563.html
Jordan, Rebecca Barlow. 2012, March 12. 5 Ways to Find Healing from Your Past. https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/five-ways-to-find-healing-from-your-past.html
Tujillo, Kelli B.. 2018, August 5. Your Past Does Not Define You. https://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2015/august-5/your-past-does-not-define-you