We see ourselves through the eyes of our past.
Example: I could lose a few pounds, agreed, but I will admit (on my good days) I’m not what you’d call “morbidly obese.” Yet what do I see when I look in the mirror? “Chunky McFATpants.” Growing up I was a little on the heavy side, and was called every “fat” name in the book by my schoolmates, so that’s what stuck. That’s what I see when I look in the mirror, more than three decades after graduating high school.
Don’t worry, I’m not gonna drudge up a bitter childhood and cry in my low-cal almond milk. I’m just makin’ a point.
My mom, who is thin, has admitted the same thing to me: “I was really overweight growing up, so no matter how thin I get, I still see the fat little girl in the mirror.”
It breaks my heart this beautiful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother feels that way about herself, but this is a common problem. We paint on a happy face to cover our insecurities, fears and self-loathing. We trudge ahead, into tomorrow, blanketed by the dark clouds of yesterday.
It’s sad, isn’t it?
“No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13, emphasis mine).”
One of my favorite memes on Facebook, speaking about the wild and woolly pasts of some of our greatest biblical heroes, says roughly, “Jacob was a cheater. Peter had a crazy-mad temper (even using a sword to slice off a soldier’s ear when Jesus was arrested). King David not only had an affair but committed murder to cover it up. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God. Joseph was an ex-con. Paul was a murderer of Christians. Gideon was insecure (see Judges 6). Miriam was a gossip. Martha was a chronic worrier. Thomas was a doubter. Sarah was impatient. Elijah was moody and depressed. Moses was also a murderer, and he stuttered. Zaccheus was uber-short. Abraham was old (fathering a child at the tender age of 100….gulp) and Lazarus was DEAD.”
God knows you’re not perfect, yet He still has a calling on your life. He has an adventure waiting for you. He wants to equip you as a warrior in the battle for the soul of mankind (which is raging as we speak). I would venture to say most of the “big names” in Christianity (preachers, musicians, etc) were “nobodies” at one time.
Joseph Rojas, lead singer of the Christian rock band Seventh Day Slumber, has spoken openly about his rough and rowdy past (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6OlKrEVSwc). Singer/songwriter Zach Williams, of “Chain Breaker” fame (one of my favorite songs ever about the saving power of Christ) shed the shackles of alcohol and drug abuse to become one of the most popular “new” Christian artists of the 21st century (http://www.christianpost.com/news/former-rocker-zach-williams-breaks-free-destructive-lifestyle-drugs-alcohol-chain-breaker-interview-171075/).
An example a little closer to home, at least for me, is my buddy, Pastor John Alarid. I first encountered John through my work with Global University. He was in the state penitentiary, serving time on drug charges, yet wanted to begin pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology. John says most of his friends from his drug days are either in jail or dead, yet through the power of Christ, he broke free from his past, and is now Pastor of an exciting outreach ministry, reaching out to people like he used to be (https://johnalarid.com/2015/03/04/transformed-by-an-encounter-with-jesus/).
My friend Christy was a drug addict, yet is now clean and sober, living for the Lord and growing closer to Him every day. Brian, a friend I met through Facebook, and a former world champion power lifter, was also strung out and nearly died, but these days spends his time drug-free, working two jobs and encouraging many of us by his “never say die” spirit. My Uncle Aaron was in and out of trouble for decades, using and abusing drugs, but is now heading an outreach ministry. Even my own daughter, Jess, was a drug addict; she is now a hospice nurse, a wife and a mother (and a darn good one at that). Her husband, Josh, was, you guessed it, also a hardcore addict, but fought back against his own personal demons and, with God’s help, won the victory over his past. He and my daughter divorced, and none of us had any hope of them ever reconciling, yet last summer they stood before their Pastor and once again exchanged vows, my adorable grandson their ring-bearer.
The list is long, and I could go on and on with examples of those who have said “sayonara” to their past.
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ‘the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’ (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)?”
Don’t let your past define you. You are not that person, and it’s essential to your emotional health to look forward.
“The Lord says, ‘Forget what happened before. Do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert. I will make rivers in the dry land (Isaiah 43:18-19).’”
“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new (2 Corinthians 5:17).”
It’s time you tell the shadow in the rearview mirror to take a hike.