I am taking a walk down memory lane again, only this time it's more of a prickly path. Instead of gazing back on a trail of fun adventures and favorite memories (and there are plenty of them), I am stuck - again - in a stinky place, rehashing my major regrets and mess-ups, my foibles and failures.
I regret decisions I made during college. I bemoan the times I failed to share my Christian witness with an acquaintance. I rehash hurtful conversations or interactions with family and friends - everything from opposing political viewpoints to differing perspectives on the rearing of children. (Good grief!) Along the way, because of my actions, communication has often been stifled and relationships have suffered.
Some of my rehashed regrets were downright silly; others were very serious. But all have threatened to stop me in my tracks and prevent me from moving forward in regard to making good decisions, sharing my faith, and enjoying rich relationships with open and honest communication.
Are your failures and regrets from the past threatening to prevent you from living life fully in the present? Do you find yourself stuck on the same well-beaten path, continuing to tread over the same trampled ground? Maybe you are still stewing over yesterday (or twenty years ago), berating yourself with thoughts such as "I should have talked to her"; "I should never have done that dreadful thing to him"; or "If they knew what I did way back then, they wouldn't want to be friends with me now." Satan loves to have us dwell on hurtful past events such as that awful argument we had with our mother, that terrible thing we did to our friend, or that lie we told that ruined a relationship.
The enemy would have us constantly looking back over our shoulder, peering into the past, focusing on our former sins, failures, and regrets. He may even whisper such lies as "You will never get over this. You will always struggle with that past sin holding you captive. Just give up. After all you have done, God could never forgive you, and neither could anyone else."
You know what happens if you don't look where you're going - you trip. It is difficult to take even one step forward when we are so busy looking back, stumbling backward down those same old trails. We struggle so much to live in the present that we can't look to the future.
As we despair over the past, we may think that the sins of yesterday disqualify us from any happiness today, that our former failures exclude us from the Body of Christ in His Church, and that our mess-ups of the past prohibit us from living a respectable life in the present and in the future. We listen to these lies and allow them to condemn us.
Then Jesus steps in!
His Word promises us, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).
We don't have to fall for the enemy's lies! We are no longer condemned for our sins, because we are forgiven in Christ. Led by the Holy Spirit, we can look to the Lord with a repentant heart. As Jesus grabs hold of us, He leads us to step out of the past, sorry for our sins and trusting in His forgiveness and grace to cleanse us completely: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Jesus steps into our lives and enables us to STEP OUT of the past...
He knows where you have been and what you have done. Lost or broken, addicted or ashamed; still stumbling down a trail full of former failures or regrets. You are found by Him; you are forgiven and free, restored and renewed, made whole and holy in His name.
You are a new creation! The old you - the sinner of the past - is gone; the new you - a new creation in Christ - has come. Ask the Lord to help you move past the past. To step out of the past so you may live fully in the present. He has already forgiven you. And He can help you forgive yourself.
From Stepping Out by Deb Burma © 2013 CPH. Reprinted with permission