There are moments when the past can haunt us in our present. Mistakes we wish we could erase. All the "if onlys" and "what ifs" can plague our minds, leaving us with the guilt and shame of things we have already sought forgiveness for...
I wish I could rewrite chapters of my story. But in the same breath, how would I understand God's incredible grace and love for me, if He hadn't loosened His palm around me and allowed me to make my mistakes? Knowing, they would inevitably draw me closer to him and leave me completely wonderstruck as to how he could give his Son... for me?
Yes, the past can be painful. But it can also teach us - sometimes the hard way - and equip us for the future. It can even inspire others through the sharing of our testimony. Whether that be our own stories or through another source...
I currently have the (nothing short of miraculous) opportunity to study Reformation Church History while caring for my little man at home. I thrive in learning the people's stories - especially, women's stories - but this last week, I was introduced to a rather remarkable man...
His name was Menno Simons and he (rather unwillingly) became the eponym, so to speak, of the Anabaptist group, the Mennonites.
Part of my admiration however didn't come from necessarily learning about him but through reading his writing, a meditation on the twenty-fifth Psalm:
'I call on you my Lord, though I am not worthy to be called your servant. For I have not served only you from my youth, but your enemy, the devil. Even so, I do not doubt your grace, for I find in your word of truth that you are an abundant and good Lord to all who call on you. Therefore, Lord, I do call on you. Hear me, Lord, hear me! I lift up my soul to you with a sure heart and in full confidence - not my head or my hands, as the hypocrites do. I lift up my soul to you alone... You are our Lord and Father. You are our redeemer... I know without a doubt that you are a faithful God for all those who put their trust in you. When I am in darkness, you are my light...'
How those words resonated with me...
Only this week I was reminded of how my past can affect other peoples' views of me and even, perhaps, my opportunity to serve in church and ministry. If I'm honest? It really affected me. It dampened my spirit and, in that moment - after the haphazard yet innocently intended comment - I honestly thought: 'Will I never escape this? How could God ever use me...'
If you've ever had those kind of unhealthy thoughts, please know that you're not alone. But please also know, you don't have to stay in that place.
A while ago I witnessed a friend giving her testimony. She didn't hold back. She offered every dark moment to us, her captivated audience, and concluded with how God shone his light into her life and transformed it as the Ultimate Life Giver he is. And do you know what reaction she received from those listening? It wasn't one of judgement, that's for sure. It was complete and utter awe at the transformation of Jesus Christ in her life.
Yes, the past can creep up on us at times, reminding us of who we've been. But the past is just that. Past. Gone. Dealt with by the blood of Jesus.
It can be tempting to think 'I am not worthy'... But that's the whole reason Jesus came. That's the reason we are about to celebrate the most beautiful holiday on the Christian calendar. Tomorrow, we acknowledge the fact that he died. We can feel the weight of that. And know the reason why...
For us. He did that for us. For your neighbour and friend, yes, but also for you. For me. For each of us.
And then on Sunday, we can celebrate the fact that he rose from the grave. He conquered Satan, sin and death. And we can know the reason why...
For us. For you. For me. For each of us.
May we lift our soul this Easter and know that the past is dealt with, in Jesus' name. It has no power here except to proclaim the mighty work that he has done and will continue to do, until he comes again.
'To You, O Lord , I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.'
PSALM 25:1-2 NKJV
Elizabeth Chapman is the founder of Daughters of Love & Light. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and young son and she is currently studying a Master of Divinity. She's an avid tea drinker, Jane Austen reader, and novice historian. Her book The Battle for Harenburg Hill is now available.