When the Past Won't Pass
2 Peter 1:5-11
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." NIV
The past. For some, it is something to be looked back on with a prideful smile. But for many of us, thoughts of our past fill us with shame, regret and pain. Whether inflicted upon us by others, or burdened with blame that can be directed no further than the view from our own mirror, the past often becomes a shadow that we find hard to shake from our lives
Ever done something in your life that people around you refused to forgive you for? Or perhaps they claim to forgive, but whenever you least expect it, the subject is resurrected just in case you might have forgotten or moved on?
Have there been moments from your history that have left you bitter, angry, fearful or weary of the world? Ever feel as if that particular hurt will stay with you as long as you breathe; no amount of time, tears or toil will ever make the load of that pain lighter on your shoulders?
Or has there formerly been sin in your life that has eaten at your insides incessantly or hangs about your neck like a scarlet letter made of iron? A sin that lays so heavily on your heart that no matter how many times you ask the Father for forgiveness, you just haven't been able to forgive yourself?
In a small or close community, it's easy to believe that others are still weighing your life by scales already loaded with all the things you've ever done. And let's face it, there will probably always be those few who do just that. Sometimes it's even hard for us to completely clear those scales ourselves when we're evaluating our lives.
But our Lord doesn't want us to live shackled to a cumbersome past or held down by the perceptions of others. And He most certainly doesn’t want us to view ourselves according to what we see when we gaze into the microscope at our pasts on a slide. Just as much as He desires for us to see others in the same way that He sees them, He also wants us to be able to view ourselves through His eyes.
To Him, we are created uniquely and have been wonderfully designed by His own masterful touch. Things that others have done to us, or that we have done to ourselves through the years, may have tarnished that image for a moment, but He is the ultimate healer and restorer of our lives.
Has He truly forgiven you for your past? If you have asked Him to, you may be well assured that He has. His word tells us that once we ask Him for such forgiveness, the matter is as far from us as east is from the west. Has He forgiven others for the things that they have done to you? If they have asked Him, then He has.
Ideally, His instructions are for them to come to you also to ask forgiveness. This may or may not ever happen. Honestly, whether they do or not isn't the most important factor in your own healing. Forgiving someone who hasn't asked for forgiveness or attempted to make amends in any way is truly difficult. But refusing to forgive them rarely hurts them. It hurts us; it is like a wound that has never been bandaged, raw and open to the elements. And it becomes a barrier in our relationship with our Savior. We must remember that even as Christ was drawing His final human breaths, He forgave and asked God the Father to forgive those who had committed these horrific crimes against Him. Not one of them asked for this forgiveness. If we are to live our lives patterned after Christ's, then we must be willing to bestow forgiveness upon those who may never ask, may never deserve or may never understand the gift that you have given, not only to them, but to yourself.
The past is gone. Forty years ago, forty months ago, forty days ago, or forty minutes ago will never come again. Bury it. Not in your heart, your mind, or your soul. Bury it in the one place where it can never come back to haunt or hurt you again: in the loving arms of Jesus. He is ready and eager to wipe all your tears, to heal all your wounds, and to forgive all there is to be forgiven. His forgiveness does not come with strings, exceptions or a price tag. It is free and available for the asking. It is complete and irrevocable. Our human minds cannot even truly comprehend how wonderful this offering of forgiveness is, nor how much it possibly means in the grand story of our lives. But we can know without any doubt that it is ours, just as we are His. Our lives are overwhelmingly better when He has taken our pasts, holds our present, and guides our futures.