I’ve carried shame. I’ve been bloated with guilt. The burden has been constricting at times.
You are probably thinking, “Well then give it to God! Confess it, repent, let God take it.”
Actually, no wait. This is all after I confess my sin to God.
My peace and joy crutch is malfunctioning. What is wrong? Is God’s promise of no more condemnation glitching? Is it a user error? Perhaps I am not confessing it enough times?
After we confess sin to God, there is a strong tendency to allow the remnants of those sins to keep us from truly knowing we are indeed free from them and that God has certainly washed them from us. The death sacrifice of Jesus was once for all. It doesn’t need to happen again or be bigger and better. It was perfectly done, and his promise of forgiveness is frank and clear.
Even if we give the shame over to God, often just the memory of it or the consequences hang around and haunt us. Even the righteous heartbreak we still feel because we know we grieved God can be a burden.
So perhaps we feel that our past is in God’s hands, but yet it feels like it is impossible for God to be totally sovereign over it. God allows consequences, God allows us to remember, and God allows remorse. These things are completely natural to us. But when these are used to pin us down in the present and thus affect our future, that’s when we need to be concerned.
I cannot speak for you, but personally, there are times I feel okay about God completely removing my sin and making me as if I had actually never sinned, but then I lack confidence in God’s ability to redeem my future or that it truly is in God’s hands. I may worry that I will mess that up too, especially since I have in the past. At these times the future feels so uncertain, and yet I am certain God has a plan. Other times I feel confident God is going to redeem my past by using my life to glorify Him, which is my desire. Yet at that same time I can dwell on the past. The shame from the past piles up and blocks my hope and future. See the cycle? Satan is satisfied even if one spectrum of our lives is not fully allowed to be controlled by God. If we give God our past, Satan tries to take our future. If we give God our future, Satan tries to bring up the past to pull us down in the present.
Do any of you ever feel like what I’ve described?
So here were are in the present stuck in linear time between the past and the future. Is there a simple way to be 100% confident, not just 98% confident that God has both your past and future in His hand? Well, I don’t really have one specific answer or recipe to follow. But I do have a relationship with God now in the present. And I think that is it! Our relationship with God right now determines the level of peace we experience about our past and our future alike.
If you thought the past is out of your hands because, well, it already happened, and that the future is out of your hands because, well it didn’t happen yet, then I invite you to reconsider. Think about it, we really do have more control of our past and future than we thought. We can control whether right now we commune with God, read and meditate on what he is saying in his Word, and whether we allow His Spirit within us to help us.
Notice the wording I chose for the title of this post. I can “now” control my past and future. Forgive me for using the word “I” instead of God, but I wanted to highlight the fact that it is our choice. God Controls it, but we decide if we want Him to by allowing him control of our lives right now.
I challenge you to stop and think about how you have or have not been controlled by the Spirit of God. It’s very sobering. (I just read the book entitled “Jesus, Continued: Why The Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You” by J.D. Geear and I recommend it earnestly.)
Remember, God is faithful. God is at each of these places right now, the past, present, and future. Often it is when I am inconsistent in my relationship with God that the past and the future are dark, and I must remember that it is not God who is inconsistent at all. The Holy Spirit is striving inside me, and its me who quenches Him way too often. Its me who ignores His voice.
As I have recently experienced, I encourage you to simply give it up to God. I was at a Christian concert with friends and the speaker was naming all the things that get us down such as broken relationships, sin, guilt, shame, addictions, loneliness, finances, broken homes, dashed hopes, lost jobs, etc. As he began to describe God’s love and power lifting us I began to have tears that I couldn’t control. And to be honest I had no desire to control them. I wanted to cry. Everything in my life I had messed up seemed to pile up harder than ever. The hurt and unmet expectations multiplied my heart’s burden. I was confused. I know God is calling me, but I feel burdened with not knowing when or what.
So there I sat, leaning forward, crying, not even caring that people saw me, not caring if they wondered what my problems are. I gave my life to God. My past. My future. And my present.
As the speaker was praying I realized that there was a friend’s hand gently reaching over and placed on my knee, and another friend’s arm around my shoulders. They stayed there, assuring me of God’s love. Yup, I’m tearing up right now as I recall it. Brothers and sister’s, that is power right there. That is love. God’s love. Because God is for us!
That powerful experience is over, but the renewed life with God continues. I won’t stop remembering the past. I won’t stop feeling uncertain about the future. But I pray that I can keep a close relationship with God each day, hour, minute, second…
Try it. Give God your life. You might cry, and that’s okay — you might experience God.