The Past, a Terrible Thing to Waste

 

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

The past; it creeps in, infiltrates thoughts, disrupts sleep, alters conversation, causes trouble in relationships, can ruin a perfectly good day, and sometimes derails a future filled with promise and hope.

So often I find myself re-living something from the past. Sometimes it’s a painful childhood memory, thoughts of a past relationship gone badly, or a negative, hurtful comment from a trusted person in my life.

I think of situations where I have failed miserably; moments in time I wish I would have handled differently, comments made without thinking first that I wish I could stuff back in my mouth, or even unkind thoughts I’d love to hide from God. We all have something in the past we’d like to forget, and just as important, things we would like others to forget.

I’m so thankful for the example of what failure and forgiveness look like in the Bible. Take King David for instance. He failed, too. He failed and looked up. He failed and fell to his knees. He failed and asked the Lord of all creation to forgive and restore him. In Psalm 103:12-13, David tells us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” David blew it more times than he ever wanted to remember, yet he would seek forgiveness every time. And God, the One who only wants our devotion and obedience, granted it every time. Doesn’t that just make you feel a little better already?

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Henry Ford

I’ve seen the lack of forgiveness ruin relationships and nearly ruin a person’s ability to function. Letting go of past hurts is not an easy thing to do, yet the Bible makes it clear we must. In Matthew 6:14-15, we are told if we forgive, we too will be forgiven. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

But Toni, what if the person who hurt me does not acknowledge my pain or ask for forgiveness? The lack of a forgiving heart does not punish the wrong doer; it only hurts us and leaves us with anger and frustration while the offender carries on without a care. Extending forgiveness, whether deserved or not, frees us from a form of bondage the enemy of this world would love to keep us in. Whether the offender asks our forgiveness makes no difference, it’s forgiving from our heart that matters, so when the time comes we can say without a doubt, yes, you are forgiven. When we extend unasked for forgiveness, we are set free and I’m quite sure, smiled upon by our heavenly Father. When we forgive those who humble themselves and ask, we are both set free and smiled upon by our heavenly Father. Either way, we set an enormous example of what Jesus’ sacrifice was all about.

We’ve all heard it said, “Forgive and forget.” I think God gave us a memory partially because He wants us to remember our transgressions and the transgressions of others against us. If we are wise, we learn from the past, then God allows us to be of help and support for others along the way that may be in the same situation as we once were. God does not waste anything. He uses every morsel of our lives to teach us, help others, and to bring glory to Himself.

Whether it’s something we’ve done, or something someone has done to us, not one of us will get out of this life without some sort of regret or pain from the past. What matters most, however, is how we handle these things while we’re here. Do we learn, ask forgiveness, and move on? Or do we blame others and wallow in self pity? I believe with all my heart God wants us to learn, ask forgiveness, and move on to much bigger and better things. He loves me, He loves you, and He wants us to have a life of abundance.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful You love us in spite of our faults and failures. Though undeserved, You sent Your only Son to this world as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Father, please forgive me when I struggle with an unforgiving heart and please help me to humble myself and ask forgiveness of those I’ve wronged. I do not want Your sacrifice to have been in vain. Please bring humility back to this world. In the matchless name of my Lord and Savior, amen.

Any thoughts? If you have something on your heart that you feel comfortable sharing in a public forum, then please share here. If however, you have some thoughts you’d like to share privately, then please email me for a private conversation. I’d love to hear from you. ☺

In His embrace,

Toni

toni@inHisembrace.com

 

4 comments to The Past, a Terrible Thing to Waste

  • Nancy Yoshida  says:

    Toni I just love your writings. You have such a heart for God and his people. Forgiveness is something that often comes up in Grief Share, it seems to be the most difficult thing for some people.When they finally get that freeing light bulb moment about forgiveness, it is a beautiful thing to witness. God at work, the Holy Spirit in the heart of the wounded.. I have a saying I use in group, “Holding on to grudges and past grievances is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.”
    I look forward to your articles. This one I have several people who will benefit from reading it. Sending love, blessings and encouragement your way

    • Toni  says:

      Nancy,

      I love what you say during grief counceling. It is so true, an unforgiving heart only hurts us in the long run. Thank you so much for trusting my words with hurting hearts. It is my prayer to always bring light into dark places. No matter where or how we serve, we are serving together. I love serving with you!

      • Nancy Yoshida  says:

        Thank you Toni, I am so blessed by your written word, your heart for Jesus and for teaching His word. It’s amazing how often I share with others the very facts you taught me from His Word. I love the firm foundation you gave me to stand on and the courage to do what God asks of me. I think it all started that night you asked us all to pray out loud. I was so scared, and with a quivering voice and sweaty hands I was the first to pray. That turned out to be such a wonderful thing because it gave me the rest of the time to listen to other women, who had never prayed out loud, to open their hearts to God and one another. That moment lives on in my memory and always gives me encouragement to follow through on those whispers I hear form God.
        Thank you my friend. Your teachings are always with me and I am thrilled to be lucky enough to read your articles of love and encouragement and to share them with other women.
        I am blessed to be serving with you.

        • Toni  says:

          Oh Nancy, you brought back such sweet memories of when we started that small group. I remember vividly the first time you and the others prayed out loud for the very first time. Those were some of the sweetest words I’ve ever heard! When you all left for the evening, I fell in a tearful heap in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord of all creation for having trusted me with such tender hearts. Thank you Nancy for reminding me of why we do what we do. Leading others closer to the foot of the cross is more precious than anything else we will ever do on this earth. So very thankful for you my sweet friend and sister in Christ. ☺

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