Title: God Knows My Past
The author begins this chapter by talking about her growing up years. Some were blessed to grow up in a wonderful Christian home. A place where God was at the center of the home and family and the environment was peaceful most of the time. Others of us did not have that blessing but rather were taught from an early age to look to God for safety and comfort.
1JOHN 1:5 and 2:11
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”
What is your past? Have you been rescued from something or did you grow up not struggling with rebellion?
I grew up in a home that was anything but peaceful. My dad was a very angry man and often abusive in several different ways. As a young child I remember being fearful the majority of the time. As I grew into a teenager I was very tempted to rebel. I hated the home life that God placed me in and I did not understand why He chose our family to be the dysfunctional one. I remember having to walk to church with my mom and siblings and I was so embarrassed by that fact. Church members avoided talking with our family minus a select few. However, God used my youth pastor to touch my heart and life. I can certainly relate to some of the past the author of this book shares.
She mentions how thankful she is for how God placed a wonderful church in her life especially as she went through some tough years at home. She mentions that she was raised in government-funded housing and how she saw so many horrible things take place through her childhood on up. It made me wonder if there were many Christians around her that chose to get to know her. That knew she lived in government housing and chose to not let that be a hinderance in getting to know her. When we lived in Arizona we would pick teens up for church and several lived in run-down homes and in government housing and it was at times scary! There were times I did not want to go pick those kids up simply because of where they were living, yet I knew that at least one day out of the week they had a place to let down and just be a kid. To be loved unconditionally and they would hear God’s Word in a peaceful atmosphere.
I think that it is easy sometimes to put on blinders as Christians. We get into our Christian bubbles and are nice and comfortable there. We focus so much on what is going on in our lives that we fail to see the world on it’s way to hell and also we fail to see other Christians wading through some very real struggles. We can easily judge, point fingers, and talk about others and how “wrong” they are living/acting because they are not living up to “our” standards of living the Christian life, but because of our blinders we have failed to minister effectively. There is a song that has meant a lot to me and in it the question is asked, “Does anybody hear her? Does anybody see she is quickly heading down the wrong road?” I think sometimes we do see but we choose to stay far away and not reach out to help because it upsets our comfort zone.
This is not how God wants us to live our lives! He longs for us to be so on fire for Him that we are looking for opportunities to minister to others. Searching for open doors of opportunity to proclaim the truth and love of God’s Word. He desires for His children to just get along and put aside petty indifferences and get busy accomplishing His work.
Beth in this chapter mentions the battle she faced as a teenager over wanting to live for Jesus but yet craving acceptance by others. Isn’t that how we all can be at times? We love the Lord, we TRULY do love Him, but sometimes our humanness gets the better of us doesn’t it?
Romans 7:15-16 says, “ For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.” We want to serve the Lord, we want to live for Him, but then our old sinful nature creeps in and we find ourselves doing the things we don’t want to do and not doing the things we know we should do! This life would be so much easier if we could be perfect, wouldn’t it?
Satan desires to remind us of our failures. He wants to see us wallowing in regret and reliving those bad memories that have already been forgiven and forgotten by God. He wants us to feel as if we are useless.
God’s forgiveness is amazing isn’t it? When I think of Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I am blown away by the fact that God KNEW what I would be like, how I would mess up constantly, how I would fail Him time and again, and yet He CHOSE to love me, forgive me, die for me!
Is there any part of your past that still hold you back or makes you feel unworthy?
I can see how my growing up years have helped to make me who I am today. I know that I am quieter by nature but for years having learned to not speak so as not to evoke anger or judgement/rejection, I learned to be silent. Not that silence is all that horrible, but I know sometimes I don’t reach out to others, even Christians as I should because of fears of rejection or judgement.
God is able to see past what we are now and what we were in the past and He is able to mold us and make us into what He wants us to be! He sees the potential, even when we don’t see it in ourselves! I remember when I was a camp counselor we had a guest speaker Tom Farrell come and each night that he spoke he would say, “When I look out in this crowd of teenagers, do you know what I see? Potential!!” He saw teenagers that looked like they came from wonderful Christian homes and he saw teens that looked like they enjoyed living in rebellion yet he saw the same thing in all of them, potential! That is what God sees in all of us!
Now, maybe your past is not one that has many dark secrets, praise the Lord for that! Maybe your past is full of things you would rather not have anyone know about. Praise the Lord He has pulled you out of the miry clay and set your feet upon a rock! No matter our past, God wants to use us!
On page 49 the author tells about the events that took place in John 4 how Jesus sat down at a well and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. Oh my, that was considered a religious no-no. Can you imagine the talk that took place? Wow, what a GREAT gossip story right? “Did you SEE who Jesus was talking to?” Now even though we do not have those same “religious rules” like they did back then, we can be pretty pharisaical now days too. We in our Christian circles tend to set up a lot of rules that we expect ourselves and others to live up to. We almost expect perfection from imperfect people instead of showing grace and mercy. We have been shown grace and mercy to the extreme by God, so why do we not do the same?
It can be easy to slip into the habit of casually judging others on what they say or do, or even on appearances. In what ways do you find yourself judging others?
Christ took the “religious rules” that were man-made and tossed them aside. He got right down to the heart of the matter, this woman’s need for salvation. He knew she needed His salvation and when the opportunity was there, He took it! He offered grace, mercy, forgiveness, LOVE to this woman and I imagine this was the first time that she had ever experienced any of those things! While the religious leaders of the day were judging, the Lord looked at her as a soul in need. He had compassion. He knew everything that she had ever done and everything she would do in the future and He loved her enough to sit down with her and share the pure truth of the gift of salvation. Wow. How convicting for even me to read that! How many times have I judged, have I mis-spoken, have I missed opportunities to lead others to Christ because of my own pointing finger? I am so thankful for Christ and His willingness to forgive and to teach me how to be a better Christian!
Another great example of this is found in John 8 where we find the story about the woman caught in adultery. Here we see this woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Think about that, she was CAUGHT in the act of it. It makes me think that the stone throwers had been watching her, they knew just what she was doing and when because they caught her in the act of adultery. They looked at her in disgust and saw her sin as so horrible she no longer deserved to live! They knew if she was to die right then she would go to hell and they were completely fine with that. Wow. They brought her to Jesus expecting Him to come to the same conclusion yet His response to them caused them to drop their stones and walk away. He responded with grace and extended to even this woman the gift of salvation. He ignored the stone throwers and instead of rejection the woman who needed His salvation, he did just the opposite.
Sometimes our memories of the past can cripple us and make us ineffective for the Lord. We tend to re-live old memories and often they can make us feel useless. Song of Solomon 2:11-12 says, “ For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” The author was right when she said, “When we hand over our questions, struggles, bad memories to Jesus, they are gone, buried, removed, and separated from us forever!” Praise the Lord! He takes us out of the mess we make of ourselves and restores us! He has crowned us with love and compassion! He is such a great and good God!