If you could return to a previous time and get a chance for a “do-over,” what would you change? When asked, most people would like to change their past in some way. Maybe it would involve altering various decisions and choices, that we now know were a mistake. Maybe we would add some opportunities, eliminate tragedies, reduce hardships, or even remove a disease or death. Maybe we would change the way we were raised and the bad habits we’ve picked up along the way. The list of ways people would change the past could go on and on.
None of us can change our past, however. Running or hiding our past is not productive. Denying or fantasizing about it can be harmful. So how do we deal with it?
We need to destroy the burden we carry. You cannot do that by yourself. To experience success in burden-killing, you have to hand them off to the one who created you and sustains you: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, Matthew 11.28-30. In his first epistle, Peter writes: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you, 1 Peter 5.6-7. You can’t carry your burdens by yourself and be effective in the kingdom.
We must accept and trust forgiveness. It is impossible to survive your past if you are chained in the slavery of guilt. Your guilt has been designed by God to move you to action, not to drive you to inaction and misery. Have the courage to make things right (Luke 15.11-23) and when forgiveness is received accept it, learn from your actions, and move on. David Chadwell has written, “The fascinating thing about forgiveness is that you will not forgive yourself until you accept and trust God’s forgiveness.” For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more, Hebrews 8.12. This promise is real.
We must be liberated from the person created by the past. The horrible thing about being enslaved to the past is that we often keep living and acting like the person of the past. God has saved you to give you the opportunity to escape the old mentalities and behaviors. By giving you salvation, God’s intent is to change you, which begins with the renewing of your mind, Romans 12.2. This leads to fruit being born out in your actions, Colossians 3.9b-10.
Chadwell writes, “God says, ‘I am the God of your past, the God of your present, and the God of your future. If you allow me to be your God, I can recreate you. I can make you a new person with a new life and a new future.’ God can do it. That is not the issue. The issue is this: do you believe that God can do it?”