I spent most of my Christian life feeling like God was getting a pretty good deal with me. I accepted Christ at church camp when I was 10 years old because the speaker told us if we didn’t we would go to hell. I didn’t want to go to hell, so I raised my hand. I grew up in church, went to Bible college and became a pastor. God saved me by His grace, but in my mind, He didn’t really have to give me as much grace as He had to give other, more sinful people. If you stacked up all the good things I did for God, He was getting a good deal with me. I never said this out loud, but in my mind it seemed reasonable.
Those of you that know our story know that my marriage, life, and ministry imploded when I had an affair with my wife’s best friend almost 8 years ago. All of a sudden, I needed grace. In that moment I had no hope. I was desperate for God, and God showed up. Despite my unfaithfulness, God was faithful.
As Trisha and I have traveled and shared our story, we’ve been criticized for living in the past. We talk about the past too much. We live in the past too much. I should just move on and not dwell on the past.
There is a difference between living in the past and remembering the past. Remembering the past helps me not repeat it. Remembering the past helps me to be thankful for grace. Remembering my failures doesn’t make me a failure, it keeps me from failing in the same way again.
It’s easy for grace to lose its amazingness. We move on from the past way too easily and take grace for granted. Staying close to my past makes we want to never go back there.
Here is where many of us get stuck. Many of us struggle with living in the past. God doesn’t want you to live in the past. Here is how you can tell the difference:
-Living in the past will cause you to live with shame and guilt.
-Remembering the past will cause you live with gratitude and thankfulness.
Guilt and shame aren’t from God. Living in the past causes us to lose sight of grace and forfeit freedom.
Jesus said, “He who has been forgiven of much loves much.” He didn’t say that so we would compare with one another how much we’ve been forgiven of. We’ve all been forgiven of EVERYTHING.
But here is the truth: those that recognize how much they’ve been forgiven for have the capacity to love more and live with gratitude.
My encouragement to you. Stop living in the past…but never stop remembering it.