Recently, my step-father passed away. Though I was not close to him, his presence in my life from the time I was 6 years old made a lasting impact. I took some ‘down time’ to ponder and process much about him, my family and my family history. There are 10 things that I’ve noted:
1) My history growing up has had many painful memories in it. It is what it is and I can’t change it.
2) However, God can and has redeemed all that has happened and all that was lost is restored. Jesus purchased my past history…all the pain, the atrocities, the ugly sin committed against me… He purchased it all when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. He said: “I have bought those things, they are mine and no longer yours” … this is something my heart can’t fathom. Why would He do such a thing? Why would He want to contaminate Himself with the ugliness and filth of things in my past? He tenderly holds my face in His strong and gentle hands and says “because I love you.”
3) Love is a funny word. We love pizza, ice cream, snow, surprises, cars, shoes, movies and TV shows, etc. But His love is different. His love says “I want the worst you have to give. I want to remove it from your heart and replace it with my unconditional love. My love covers everything and brings beauty to that which was scarred, torn, ugly and deformed. It creates beauty from ashes, strength from weakness, hope where there is despair and disillusionment. He purchased it all on the cross for me so I can walk in freedom that comes from giving it all to Him. And so, with a heart full of gratitude and not fully understanding ‘why’ He would even want to look at all my pain, touch it, and want to carry it away from me, I give everything to Him. He brings healing and joy to those areas where pain existed. He carefully washes my wounds with His grace and love. He restores my soul…body, mind and spirit. The memories may linger, but the pain doesn’t.
4) Forgiveness given isn’t so much about the person needing my forgiveness, but it’s more about me needing to forgive so that I am not eaten alive by bitterness, anger and pain they’ve caused. I need to forgive so the enemy will not be able to use those ugly things that happened in my life to destroy me. In forgiveness, those things have no power over me and by choosing to forgive, those things will not be as chains around my neck, or as shackles on my legs, or as a coffin imprisoning me. He bought me with His precious blood and saved me from the effects of evil that wanted so badly to rip, tear and destroy my life. I’m truly set free when I choose to forgive.
5) I’m not responsible to “save” those who have wounded and hurt me. I can only offer my forgiveness to them and move on. I must not feel that I am responsible to be the “light” and “show them the way.” Only Jesus can do that. Anything else would be co-dependency.
6) I am not immune to pain and suffering. These things may happen to me, but I chose to not be a victim to them, but rather fight for the victory over them.
7) My inheritance is eternal and not from this world. Jesus changed what I would inherit the moment I confessed that I needed Him and asked Him into my life. I get Him and all of heaven. What I get to pass on to my children, … what my children and grandchildren will inherit from me is the freedom I fought for in my heart when bad things happened. They will be able to stand on my victory and reach new heights of freedom because I chose not to harbor unforgiveness in my heart.
8) My heart is forever thankful for God’s mercy, kindness and grace that causes me to rise above all the effects of wrongdoings, offense, acts of evil done against me. I choose not to allow those things of my past to determine what my future will be. I humbly bow before my King Jesus and surrender everything to Him. In exchange, He gives me a life of freedom and joy; to walk in nobility as His daughter, with His kingdom values. In His kingdom, my past history does not have a grip on me and it does not determine my future.
9) What have I learned? God does heal and restore. To never, ever give up. ‘Pain may endure through the night, but joy does come in the morning.’ Know that He is for me and He does have good things planned for my life.
10) Finishing out my “down time, I’m at peace with all that life has brought to me. The good and the bad, because Jesus has been faithful through it all, redeemed that which was wrong, and has brought me so much good. I’m thankful that the Creator of the universe, ‘the One who commands the heavens and sets the stars in their place, who holds the wind in His fist, and wraps the oceans in His cloak, who created the whole wide world,’ stops to see me and knows me and even the number of hairs on my head and what I’m about to say before I even say it. He loves me enough to heal and restore. I’m grateful.
Lynne and her husband Mike are part of the pastoral team at Bethel Church in Redding, California and are responsible for missions. Lynne and Mark worked overseas for 13 years as missionaries in Africa and Europe.
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