I don’t know about you but I’ve done some dumb things in my past. . .
Everyone has a story that they wish wasn’t part of their story. Something painful, something a little dark maybe, something that still has some power in our lives, even if we’re not fully aware of it.
Many of you have a story from your past. Maybe your story is about a relationship that didn't work out. Maybe your story includes a marriage that has been filled with problems or is in crisis. Maybe you've been through a difficult breakup or divorce. Maybe your trust has been broken by an act of deception or infidelity. Maybe you've done something to hurt someone you love. Maybe a decision or series of decisions that are brought about serious pain.
Some of the deepest wounds we carry are self-inflicted. Most of us I think if we're really being honest, have things we’ve done we wish we hadn’t, things that we've said that we wish we hadn't. Stuff that seemed fun when we were in college but that’s embarrassing today.
Some of you, you've got some bad decisions you've made in the past and now they're catching up to you. Maybe they're coming out, or you're afraid they might come out and you just, you regret it, you hate it, and you don't know what to do.
Others, maybe we look at our kids and think, If I had only been a better parent they wouldn't have made those decisions, and they wouldn’t have to deal with what they’re going through. Guilt, regret, and shame are all associated with past, personal failures.
And so many people feel a lot like David did when he said in Psalm 38:4,
My guilt has overwhelmed me. It's overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
But there are far too many of you that are living in your past, you're living still gripped by the thought of that failure or that series of failures. We may know that God has forgiven us, but we have a difficult time forgiving ourselves. Getting Past your Past...it’s so hard to do, so we try to forget, we minimize, we compartmentalize, hide it, we do anything but deal with it.
But here’s the truth, if you are going to move forward, we are going to have to talk about our pain, and we are going to have to talk about our past because how you are doing in the present has everything to do with how you've handled your past.
For many people it’s so difficult to move on, to get past our past. For some what would help is just knowing why this happened. As people, we always want to know why. You've probably asked the why question about why a bad thing has happened in your life.
As a pastor, I've heard a lot of painful stories, and a lot of times I simply don't have a good answer to the why question, but here's what I have learned. I've learned more important than answering the 'why' question is answering the how question: How do you deal with it? How will you heal? How do you move forward? How do you get past the past?
Let me just ask you a personal question. How have you handled your pain? How have you dealt with your past? In particular your past personal failures? Setbacks.
The apostle Paul says concerning our past -- we must focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
You cannot move forward successfully if you are always focusing on your past. Let it go!
Thanks, Danny Rivers