(originally published March 12, 2015)
Sometimes I feel like a massive failure. Usually it's when something from my past comes creeping up and I fall into a behavior I KNOW I shouldn't do. I should be past it, having been a Christian for 13 years now, right? It's when I feel like a massive failure I remember the grace of God. The amazing, abundant, life-saving grace of our beautiful God.
One of the many things I love about the Bible is that it is filled with men and women who made mistakes that God still used. We think of the great patriarch filled with faith when we think of Abraham. Did you know he lied to kings about Sarah being his wife...twice! We think of Jacob being the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, but he was also a deceiver who stole his brother's blessing. Moses was a murderer who God used to deliver Israel out of Egypt. David was the mighty king who had a heart after God, but who also slept with a married woman and had her husband killed.
Read those stories and immediately you can sense that God uses imperfect people for His perfect will. How God uses us has nothing to do with our capabilities, perfection or squeaky clean past. It has nothing to do with your history of anger, abuse, addiction or sins. It has everything to do with the grace and mercy of God!
Imagine what God wants to do with your life?! If he uses liars, deceivers, murderers and adulterers to build His kingdom, He certainly takes you and me as well. The heart of the Gospel is that Jesus died for you and me so that we wouldn't have to live a life marked by shame and condemnation. The blood of Christ washes over those who love him and confess him as Lord, and cleanses them white as snow. On the cross, Christ knew exactly what he was taking on. He knew the sins he was taking the punishment for, from you.
Please, please get this: when Christ called you into relationship with him, we knew all you had done in the past. And he knew all the mistakes you would make as a Christian. AND HE STILL CHOSE YOU. How amazing is that!
Every time you feel like you make a mess of your life...when you stumble and fall...know that Christ is right there, extending his hand of grace to you. The life of the believer is not about perfection, but about relationship. Don't let the past eat at you and steal the future God has for you. Choose to bank on the truth of God's Word that you are free and that He has a plan for you, regardless of your past.
Your past does not define you. Christ defines you.
"Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth."
- Is there something from your past that is haunting you? That maybe you're having a hard time letting go of. Write it down on a piece of paper, say a prayer that you are giving it to God, and tear up or burn the piece of paper.
- Find a verse that addresses the struggle or strengthens you, and memorize it. Each time you find that "something" creeping up, recite that verse and pray, giving it to God. Consistency is important when overcoming struggles.