Strategy #5: Your Past (Fervent Bible Study Blog #6)
My best friend called me as soon as she finished reading my first book, Angel Discovered.
“You worked your entire life story into that book, didn’t you?” she laughed.
I had to laugh as well because she was one of the few people who would pick up on that. I never dated a movie star or a famous singer, but there are things the characters deal with in their past that were straight from mine. When I first wrote the book, I was afraid the people would be judgmental. The opposite happened. Many people have told me they were encouraged by the characters because of what they had overcome. That’s the key. They didn’t remain stuck in their past. They had overcome.
“If I were your enemy, I’d constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices. I’d want to keep you burdened by shame and guilt, in hopes that you’ll feel incapacitated by your many failings and see no point in even trying again. I’d work to convince you that you had your chance and blown it— that your God may be able to forgive some people for some things but not you…not for this.” (Shirer, 93)
The reason I was convinced people would be judgmental of my character’s past failings was at that time I hadn’t fully forgiven myself. I was still living in shame and condemnation. It’s truly a terrible place to live and it’s not a place that God puts us. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict. Satan is the one who condemns. It affected my self-esteem which led me from one bad decision to an even worse one. It affected my relationship with God. I would still go to church but it was the biggest one I could find and I always sat in the back. At night I would stare at my Bible on my desk.
“I know You’ll be there when I’m ready to come back. But I’m just not ready,” I’d say.
It took God bringing the man of my dreams into my life for me to let go of my past.
One night after meeting Jeff, I was crying in bed thinking how undeserving I was of his love. All my sins of the past year played in my mind like a movie. The soundtrack was the same four words over and over.
“You don’t deserve him.”
I wept until my chest hurt and my eyes were raw. That was when I finally whispered, “God forgive me for all I’ve done. Please, help me to move past it.”
The coolest thing happened after that. All of those visions of past sin turned into still photos in my mind. Each one was crumpled up and tossed in a trash can. One by one they were thrown away while a new soundtrack played in my mind.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
“But prayer— fervent, strategic prayer— can change things. Even unchangeable things. Even things as unchangeable as real-life scenes from your past— what you did, what you didn’t do, why you did it, why you didn’t.” (Shirer 95)
Satan knows he can sink us with our past. He knows if he keeps throwing it in our face, we will feel unworthy. We’ll feel so ashamed that we will never attempt to do anything for God. And sometimes, we’ve done bad stuff. Stuff that hurt ourselves and those we care about. So why should we move on? What gives us that right? Priscilla points out two reasons why we can walk away and accept true forgiveness.
1) God doesn’t live in the past.
2) We only live by grace anyway.
Grace is undeserved favor. Yes, what I did was wrong, but God forgives me anyway. There is no sin too big. Jesus died for them all.
It was a decade after I let go of my past failings that I finished writing Angel Discovered. My characters, like me, had received God’s forgiveness and stepped into the future God had for them. I don’t minister to people because I’ve lived a perfect life. There are some days I still blow it. I minister to people because it’s what God has called me to do. But I know from past experience, if I believe Satan’s lies and wallow in my sin rather than asking for and accepting Christ’s forgiveness, I’m no good to anyone including myself.
Has Satan been holding something over your head? Get alone with the Lord today. Using Priscilla’s suggestions on page 101, write out your fervent prayer of forgiveness.
Which verses are you holding tight to? What does moving forward look like for you? What has God called you to do that you can be free to do once you leave your past behind you?
As Priscilla found out, the scenery passed the exit of your sin is beautiful. No longer do we need to beat ourselves up over the past. No longer do we need to allow our past to define our future. Remember where your identity is found, where your focus should be and allow your passion to get you beyond your past. That is truly living.
All quotes not from the Bible are taken from:
Shirer, Priscilla. “Fervent.” B & H Publishing Group, 2015.