January 9, 2022

Breaking Free from the Past     

Mistakes are inevitable. We all blunder. So the big question is not how can we avoid mistakes but how can we avoid living in bondage to the past. Our attitude determines whether we are free or chained to the guilt and pain of our blunders. Bondage occurs if we believe the most important reality in our lives is what happened in the past. Freedom follows when we believe that the most important reality of our lives is the future God is offering us.

To refuse to be defined by our past is not an easy decision. Tragedy, which is common to us all, pushes us to allow our past to define us. Misfortune strikes. God is silent. He allows us to suffer. So why believe? Our sins also trigger disbelief. We lied. We stole what did not belong to us. We committed adultery. We got sucked into the darkness of drug and alcohol addiction. So we concluded in despair: God will never forgive us. Thus, we choose to be defined by our past. 

So, if you feel chained to the past, how can you break loose from this bondage? The first step is to remember, and believe, what the Bible says about God! Refuse to believe that God will not forgive you. Instead, believe the words of Jeremiah 31:34 – “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Embrace and celebrate the words of David in Psalm 103 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Paraphrase that verse for yourself: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed my transgressions from me.” Believe it because that is what God does when you genuinely repent of your sins!

Grab a hymnal (or ask Alexa to play for you!) and sing the songs that affirm God’s chain-breaking power. Believe these words of a verse in Charles Wesley’s hymn, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” -- “He breaks the power of canceled sin, he sets the prisoner free; his blood can make the foulest clean, his blood avails for me.” Believe the Lord can set you free!

John Wesley defined the Christian life as “growing in grace.” Notice he did not say, “sitting in grace.” The way to grow in grace is to arise and accept God’s offer. You cannot continue to sit in bondage and experience the new life God wants to give you. You must get up and move! Say and do what the song says, “I’m pressing on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining every day”!

Consider that New Testament missionary named Paul. Jesus had been crucified and resurrected. He redeems Paul. Paul is growing in grace. He establishes churches and encourages fellow Christians to grow in grace. From prison he says to the Philippians: “….one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on….” 

Paul had an ugly past, and he knew his past could chain him, so he let it go! He cut loose from his past by “forgetting what lies behind.” I had to do that. If you have not done it, you can do it. You cannot move forward until you believe that the most important thing about you is not your past but what God is offering you – a new beginning free from the hurt of the past. Choose it! Get in it! If you can’t jump in it, then crawl in it!

Jesus did not focus on the past. He pointed even the worst of sinners toward the future! Whatever your past, Jesus is not looking back at the mud you got stuck in; he is looking at the stars you can follow into a new life!

If you are chained to your past, ask the good Lord to help you break loose and start growing in grace so you can become the person God has destined you to be! + + +