Chained to the Past
Passage: Isaiah 43:18-21
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?” Isaiah 43:18
Our conversation was going well. We talked about the girls’ schools, the weather and our concerns about the country and the economy.
I had learned to keep our conversations quite superficial, unfortunately. But we had enough time in our hands for the inevitable. The past was knocking at the door and she just had to let it in. Sigh.
Have you ever been around someone who just cannot let go of the past?
You meet them everywhere and every family has at least one. They drag their shackles around everywhere they go. They are slaves and do not know it. They are unhappy and invariably become bitter, resentful… and lonely. So.very.lonely.
They are doctors, housewives, wealthy and poor. Many of them sit on the pew beside us. They know Jesus. And yet, for different reasons, choose to remain chained to the misery of their past. Even though they know that Jesus came to set them free.
My heart aches for them.
But truthfully, many of us have been there. I know I have.
For years I looked back to find justification for my bad attitude and shallow faith. I would blame my insecurities on my parent’s broken marriage and my poor self-image on things that I heard growing up. I blamed my jealousy on that boyfriend who was unfaithful and my reluctance in giving up bad habits on the fact that I came from a different culture.
Blame, blame, blame. Attached to the chains that keep us bound to our past is the Blame Monster. And we feed it every time we drag the past around, allowing it to rob us of an abundant, victorious present and future.
Honestly, it’s not easy to release the past. And I cannot in all fairness compare my pain and sufferings with some terrible stories I’ve heard. But regardless of the measure of our pain, eventually we must be confronted with two simple questions:
“Am I willing to let go?” and “Is God able to rewrite ANY story?”
Sometimes it is easier to bring the past along with us, because in order to confront it, we must realize our share of responsibility over our destiny. Of course, there are things that happen that are absolutely outside of our control: A child never does anything to deserve abuse. Neither is one’s fault that a parent leaves home, abandoning his or her family.
However, there are hurts of the past that have a measure of self-infliction which is hard to confront. It’s easier to blame mom and dad… or the ex-husband or ex-wife… than to look in the mirror, choose to look forward and take ownership of our destiny.
There is also the fact that we become accustomed to living in bondage. We may have blamed our past for so long, that we do not know how to function without the dysfunction!
All along, the Bible message of restoration rings the same: “I am able to rewrite your story. Any story. If only you are willing to let go.”
Just as He did to the woman at the well, who did not look back at years of promiscuity… but rather, went on sharing her story of redemption in the city.
Just as He did to Joseph, who did not cling to the years of slavery and imprisonment, but rather looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises given to him in a dream.
And as He did to the woman with the alabaster box, who poured her past and her pain at the Savior’s feet… the One who could give her hope of a new future.
“I came that you may have life and have it abundantly,” He says.
He does not offer to erase the past, but to heal and restore us, if only we are willing to cut the chains and let the past go.
That is the part of our story that is absolutely, unquestionably, in our hands. No one can do it for us. We must choose to leave the past where it belongs, that we may receive God’s abundant future.
Did someone hurt you? For your own sake, set him or her free! There is healing available to you, if only you open the chains of blame and guilt and extend to others the same grace and forgiveness that Jesus gave you at the foot of the cross.
Did you mess up and miss God’s best for you? He has a new “best” for you, if you are willing to ask Him to forgive you and to show you the way. He is a God of second, third, one thousandth chances!
“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” (Micah 7:18)
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)