“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 feelings and see no point in trying again….” p93
Oh those words struck me when I read them…they still do.
How often have shame and guilt permeated your thoughts, that reminder again and again that your past defines you and you will never be good enough for God?
It is something that I have struggled with for years. Honestly I didn’t even understand how much shame played a large part in shaping who I am. It wasn’t until recently when I read a book that focused on on how damaging shame can be that I realized how the enemy had used it in my life, time and time again.
In our Bible study we discussed the difference between shame and guilt. I heard it said that guilt is when you feel badly about something you have done. But shame is the feeling that you are bad.
And stuck in shame is right where the enemy wants us.
Is there something in your past that you think is just too bad for God to redeem?
When I found out that I was pregnant out of marriage I believed that I had sinned in a way that would keep me from God. Even if I repented…I just didn’t believe that He could love me anymore.
When life got hard, I believed that it was God’s punishment for my sin. I spent YEARS with a warped sense of who He was. I didn’t trust that my sin was forgivable, even though I had grown up hearing about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Maybe he just didn’t mean it for a girl like me.
The enemy whispers lies like that to keep us stuck in shame.
Or how about those times that you mess up, plead for forgiveness vowing never to make that mistake again…only to find yourself stuck in your sin once again. Oh how the enemy loves to keep us there.
I can tell you with all honesty that there are sins and character defects in my life today that God has not fully removed from me yet. Trust me when I say that I have asked, begged Him to take away my problems (mainly my anger or my tendency to fight unfairly). I don’t like those parts of me. In the heat of the situation, I don’t stop and pray. I shoot off my mouth and then feel guilty later.
In those moments it feels like nothing is ever going to change. Sometimes my past mistakes seem so hopeless.
But Priscilla challenges that idea suggesting that God doesn’t live in our past. He exists outside of time. And furthermore, when I accepted the free gift of Jesus as a payment for ALL of my sins, God no longer sees me as the sinful woman that I am. Instead He sees Jesus’ atonement for my sins and I too am washed white as snow.
It is hard for me to grasp really. Is it for you too?
Tomorrow I will talk a little more about our new identity. How we can walk in the freedom of a transformed past. But for today I want to leave you with this.
Nothing, and I mean nothing is too bad that God can’t redeem it if we ask Him to. It doesn’t mean that we will immediately be “cured” of all of our character defects. I am finding that I am given lots of opportunities to “practice” a new response.
One of my biggest struggles is remaining calm when I get upset. But in those moments if I just pause and pray…the intensity of my feelings goes down. If I am seeking God first before I respond, I will respond in a way that is more grace filled and peaceful than if I just react on my own.
But I have to start with prayer.
There are days I pray that God would put a muzzle over my mouth…because I need it! I am helpless and hopeless on my own. But with prayer I can access a mighty and powerful God who can lead me in the right direction.
When I pause and pray, He brings me the peace I need and the direction I want to move me forward in a manner that is pleasing and honoring to Him.
Pause and pray. That needs to be my mantra.
I promise you that I WILL be tested, and probably soon, now that I have written those words! Ha! It is easy for me to write it out and much harder for me to put it into practice in the moment! But I challenge myself to try it before even challenging you! What do you think, would pause and pray work for you too?
If there is something in your past that is still being used as a hurt in your life? I just pray that today you might be able to leave that at the foot of the cross. Pray that God would heal your wounds, allowing you to grow if and where needed…but then also that you may find the freedom of walking forward without the shame you have carried for far too long.
Lord, we just thank and praise You that our past and all of its ugliness doesn’t have to define us today. We know we are sinners and we are so grateful for the gift of Jesus. He took the punishment for every sin. Past, present and future. I can’t understand a love like that, so I just fall on my knees grateful for who You are. Help us Lord in those moments where our sin might take a hold of our thoughts and our words…that we might pause and pray. That we would humbly ask for Your words, Your path and direction in all we do. So that all that we do might bring You honor and glory. We pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.
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