Leave It At the Altar
Pamela A. Johnson
I sat under the hair dryer in the beauty salon reading the Letters to the Editor in an issue of “O” Magazine. One letter I read has stayed with me. The letter was from a married woman who was expecting her third child and was informed by her doctor that she had “full blown AIDS.” The letter was about her finding the courage to live instead of preparing to die based on an article she’d read in a previous issue of “O.”
Now, I don’t know anything about this woman, her background, how she contracted the disease, or her belief system. But let’s imagine she is a Christian who has a past history of non-marital sexual relationships and maybe she even abused drugs or dated a drug abuser—all of which were forgiven the moment she accepted Christ as her savior and received a free pardoning of her sins. She has been on the right track for years—she got married, started a family, is an active member in her church, and studies her Bible on a regular basis. BAM! The diagnosis is delivered and strikes a painful chord of remembrance of her past indiscretions. Acts that over the years she has felt guilty about, at times she’s felt unworthy of her present life and of God’s love. But because of prayer and fellowship with Godly people she has slowly been able to see herself as God sees her—as His child whose slate has been washed clean by the blood of His only begotten Son. So, as time passed she let go of the guilt and shame—and now this.
The enemy knows all about her past and the feelings of guilt and begins to play on that to detach her from God. “God doesn’t care about you.” “He allowed you to contract this disease.” “See, you really weren’t forgiven for your sins.” “Why continue to serve God now?”
We’ve all been, or are currently, where this woman is in some way. No, it may not have been something as devastating as an AIDS diagnosis to bring it all back, but it all came back. Some have a past of sexual sins from fornication to adultery, it may be drug abuse, gambling, several divorces, dishonesty, or pridefulness—regardless of what it was, it is something we are not proud of that God has long since forgiven. “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins.” (Colossians 2:13, NLT)
I have good news and bad news—the bad news is, your sins are real and you may have to endure some consequences because of them. The good news is your sins are forgiven and you’ve been given a second chance. “He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross”(Colossians 2:14, NLT)
Don’t allow the enemy to use your past to haunt you, to diminish your self-worth, to damage current healthy relationship, to destroy your relationship with God, or to diminish your faith in the Most High. The enemy knows your weaknesses and struggles and will play on them within you which ultimately lead to depression, low self-worth, and sometimes a dangerous U-turn back into the very life you were delivered from. Keep your mind stayed on Jesus and ask Him to help you see yourself as a new creature in Him. Arm yourself with the fact that the enemy does not have any power over your life, unless you give him power. “. . .God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ.” (Colossians 2:15, NLT)
Is it wise to completely forget your past and pretend like it never happened? No, you should use your past to relate to someone who is going through the same situation and then introduce them to the One who forgave you of your past. Don’t let your past keep you from becoming all God is calling you to be. God has a track record of using people with tainted pasts:
· Rahab, a prostitute whose life and that of her family’s was spared because she chose to hide the Israelite spies.
· Jesus spoke to a shunned five-time divorcee at the town well and sent her to tell her neighbors about him.
· King David was a man after God’s on Heart who committed adultery and was an accessory to murder.
· Moses was a murderer and had a speech impediment, but he was chosen to lead God’s people out of bondage.
· Paul was a serial killer of Christians and went on to be one of the greatest teachers of God’s word.
The list goes on . . . .
If you have accepted Christ –your sins are forgiven and removed from your spiritual record. Now forgive yourself, let go of the guilt, go and sin no more, and help others to do the same.
More good news: To rejoin the woman at the beginning of this article—even in the midst of turmoil God is still merciful and compassionate. The woman ended her letter by stating that her husband and two children all tested negative for the virus. So, although it may seem like your world is caving in, God is still in the blessing business and provides a silver lining to every cloud. So, shout hallelujah, even in the midst of the storm!