Have you ever been paralyzed by your past? Have you ever wanted to do something that made your heart leap, but then dropped the idea because your past disqualified you? Maybe you were an addict or had an affair. Maybe it was an abortion or divorce. Fill in the blank for you.
The truth is, not only can God forgive and heal your past, but your past is actually key to God’s calling on your life. There are two important points here.
First, our past doesn’t derail God’s calling on our life.
But we can derail ourselves. Sometimes we sabotage our own destiny.
“I can’t write that book because I dropped out of college!”
“I can’t lead a marriage Bible study because I’m divorced!”
Sometimes our sabotage is subtle, unconscious, and just under the surface:
“I don’t deserve a healthy relationship after what I’ve done!”
But the good news is our past does not disqualify us from our future for one big reason. That’s not how God sees us. Check out this story.
Ok, so we’re in Damascus, first decade AD. A Christian named Ananias is out watering sheep, or doing whatever they did back then, when God shows up in a vision and calls him by name.
Ananias thinks this is awesome, until Jesus says, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He’s praying and I’ve given him a vision of you restoring his sight.”
Now Ananias thinks, “Snap, not so awesome.” He answers, “Lord, I saw this dude on Jerusalem Today. He was going house-to-house, dragging off Christians and throwing them in prison! And he’s come here to do the same thing! Look, I’ll show you on my iPhone. I’ve got it on YouTube right here.”
Ok, now this is where it gets interesting. Here’s what the Lord never said:
- “Wow, I hadn’t heard that! I guess I picked the wrong guy. Must be a mix-up in the front office.”
- “Thanks, Ananias, you really saved me from a big blooper there!”
- “I sure am glad you’re on my team, Ananias! Way to be on the ball!”
Nope. Instead, the Lord gets a little testy with Ananias: “Go! Don’t you be talkin’ ‘bout my servant like that! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their Kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Ok, I took some creative license here, but you can read the real story in Acts 8:3 and 9:1-19.
Here’s the thing: Everything Ananias said about Saul was completely true. And the Lord completely ignored it. Instead of arguing with Ananias over Earth’s truth about Saul, the Lord responded with Heaven’s truth about Saul. “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their Kings and before the people of Israel.”
Earth’s truth defines us by what we’ve done. But Heaven’s truth defines us by our calling, and that’s how God sees us. Heaven’s truth trumps earth’s truth every time, which is why your past doesn’t disqualify you. You are not what you’ve done.
When we agree with Heaven’s truth, admit the wrongs in our past, and turn from them so we don’t practice them anymore, like Saul did, that’s called repentance. Repentance totally blows our past away so it has no more power over us.
Second, our past is key to God’s calling on our life.
Back to Saul, soon to be the Apostle Paul. God knew the most challenging controversy in the first century church would be the confusion over whether Gentile converts had to be circumcised and keep the whole Law of Moses or not. There were some very persuasive Pharisees who became Christians and insisted they did. God felt otherwise, but who could stand up to the legalistic and opinionated Pharisees and logically make God’s point to the contrary? Certainly not some uneducated fishermen who could barely read or write!
What God needed was somebody who was himself circumcised on the eighth day, a Hebrew of Hebrews, somebody zealous for the Law who knew it as well as or better than the Pharisees causing all the trouble. If fact, God needed an ex-Pharisee.
Enter the Apostle Paul. He’s wasn’t just an ex-Pharisee, but an exceptional one. He studied under Gamaliel, the greatest Rabbi of that day. He excelled way beyond his peers and was extremely zealous (Galatians 1:14, Philippians 3:4-6). Paul could run circles around the other Pharisees with the Law. He was perfect. Paul’s past was key to God’s calling on his life.
After we repent and go through a season of healing, like Paul did, our past can be key to our future. We have authority over what we’ve been rescued from.
Dropped out of college? You’ve acquired real-life wisdom that makes you perfect to write that book.
Been divorced? You’re perfect to lead that marriage Bible study. You know where the traps and pitfalls are.
Had an affair or abortion? You’re perfect to lead others through the healing you’ve received. You know the pain they’re feeling.
And when you set others free from what you’ve been set free from, that’s revenge. Sweet revenge. Make the enemy sorry he ever messed with you! Make the devil need therapy! Woof!
So what’s Heaven’s truth about you? The Lord has a mission for you. Do you know what it is? It’s connected to your past. You are his chosen instrument for, what? Fill in the blank for you. What’s the passion that rises up in your heart when you think about it. Your past does not disqualify you from it. Your past is actually key to it.
Does this possibility make your heart leap? Does it resonate? Tell us your story in the comments or shoot us an email. And please share on social media if you think this would help or inspire someone else.
[Note: This post was inspired by Graham Cooke’s Living Your Truest Identity 3-CD audio series. I highly recommend it. This is not an affiliate link; we get no commission if you click the link or buy from Graham.]