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Leaving the Dungeon
by Taylor Hoisington
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Philippians 3:13b-14, "...Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

God's been repeating something to my heart over and over again: Let go of dead things and grab hold of life.

Have you ever met someone who lived in their past? No matter how long ago something happened, they were stuck somewhere that wasn't the present. Somewhere along the way, they quit living, and they got trapped in a place where they lived in their past day after day and never moved on.

For some, it was way back in childhood that they got stuck. Something tragic happened in their life, and instead of that being a stepping stone, it became a dungeon that they themselves refused to leave.

For others, it happened later in life. They were living life, and then something happened, and they quit living. Life went on, but they remained in that moment or season of pain.

When I've met people who lived in their past, from an outsider's view, I couldn't stand it. I thought about how wonderful their life could be if they'd simply just live now instead of dwelling on what had been before. I'd see the pain that they were still dealing with and wonder why they wouldn't let it go and allow healing to take place.

From an outsider's view, my mind put things into logical sense, but then I found myself in a place where I had got stuck in my past, and I quit living in today.

I'm writing this devotional because this is the exact thing God has been and is working with me on.

A few months back, my ex-boyfriend and I broke up. The pain ran deep, and I thought after time it would go away... but as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months I realized that I had got stuck somewhere along the way and was not letting go of something that was dead. It's been close to five months since we broke up, and this week I found myself still hanging onto this dead relationship.

What was going on?

Tonight, God brought the Israelites to mind once again. In-between Egypt and the Promise Land was the wilderness. It was here that the Israelites had a hard time letting go of Egypt and pressing on into the Promise Land. You see, it's easier to see life backwards than it is to see it forward. The Israelites didn't know what the future would look like, but they could see what the past looked like. To press on into what God had for them, they were going to have to take many steps of faith.

It's uncomfortable to let go of dead things because we remember what was or what we wish would have been. We get tired of waiting on God, and we wish He would speed things along. We begin to get weary in the wilderness.

Today, we have to decide to live, though. We have to let go of what lies behind and press on to reach the end of the race. We have to step out of that dungeon we've trapped ourselves into and realize that God doesn't want us to hold onto dead things any longer.

Let go of dead things and grab hold of life.

I'm not intending to make light of anyone's pain. I realize that some of the things you've gone through were massively painful and most likely something I can't imagine myself; but what I do know is to continue living in those moments of pain or disappointment or regret don't free you from any misery in your past. All living in those moments does is binds you in chains to a dungeon you don't have to stay in.

God is still working on my heart to let go of what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead. He is reminding me of Isaiah 43:19, "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."

God wants to give us life. We must choose to let go of dead things first, though. We can't hold onto death and still live.

God says, "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" Deuteronomy 30:19.

God wants us to choose life, but He leaves that choice up to us.

Are you ready to let go of the past? Are you ready to let go of what lies behind?

Are you ready to enjoy a present and future that is full of life?

I'm going to end with a funny story about something that was dead that I tried to hang onto.

There have been some times where guys gave me plants. They didn't give me flowers that were supposed to die in a week. They gave me flowers that were supposed to bloom and grow and turn into these lovely plants. Well, I had no problem keeping plants alive that weren't my own, but when I received a plant from someone, it would always die. This drove me crazy, and I joke because normally when the plant would die, so would the friendship. I know that had nothing to do with it, but it drove me crazy. One plant I tried to hang onto desperately. I noticed it wasn't doing well, but I was determined to make it live. Off to the store I went to buy new potting soil, a new pot, and best of all... miracle grow (because this plant needed a MIRACLE!) All that was left of that plant in the end was a rotten seed that was certainly dead, but I had high hopes of it being like Lazarus and being brought back to life. NO SUCH LUCK! It was time for me to accept that plant had died. It was time to let it go.

So, there's my funny story. It is true, though. We have to stop living as if something that is truly dead is really alive.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You've been massively dealing with my heart about letting dead things go and grabbing onto life. I've been stuck in my past way too long, and it is time for me to let go of what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead. You have so much more planned for me, and I don't want want to miss it all because I'm living in a dungeon I refuse to leave. Thank You for not leaving me there to rot. Thank You for having the key out and coming after me calling me to leave the dungeon and enter the life You have for me. I pray this in Jesus' Name.



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