Recently a friend was struggling with some issues from his past. Although he would not give me the details, he asked that I pray for him. He felt that God wanted him to deal with his past so that he could move on with his life.
I found this approach surprisingly mature. This friend was looking for an ear to unload some stuff. And although I am certainly not a therapist, have no training in counseling and am barely passable as an active listener, I served as the repository for some hurt, guilt and shame. I was a therapeutic resource for my friend.
During the course of our conversation- which, by the way, was almost entirely one-sided- I offered a few platitudes and words of wisdom. Most of what I had to say was gleaned from years of listening to others. I had little of substance to offer. That is until God showed up.
I am not a creepy, mystical type person, but I do believe in God and his willingness to intervene in the affairs of humans. Sometimes he makes himself obvious and at other times he stays somewhat hidden in the background. But last week with my friend he showed up front and center. There was no mistake about his presence or his attitude. God's word came from my mouth. Out of nowhere I said one of the wisest things I ever had.
"Do not let something from your past- something you did, or something that was done to you- be an excuse to keep you from moving into God's will for your future."
How true! Too many people let guilt from past mistakes (sin) keep them from moving forward into God's will. They are so consumed with guilt and regret that they refuse to believe that God, or anyone for that matter, can find any value in them. They do not see why they should be hopeful because they are so filled with remorse that they become paralyzed.
There are also people who are filled with shame. Many men and women are consumed with the memory of past abuses. They blame themselves for what others did to them. They cannot get beyond the emotional bondage that captured them six months, two years or 20 years ago.
There are also many men and women who experience guilt by association. They were a part of a group who participated in sin. Or they were witness to something that proved to be evil. All of these situations fall into that category. Many are suffering because of what was done to them.
So here is my encouragement; God loves you just like you are. No matter what. He will take you just like you are. You do not have to clean up your mess first. Come to God and let him clean up the mess.