I told myself not to say a word. This wasn’t my event. I was scheduled to speak and share God’s word on the second day of the retreat, but not this night.
“Keep your mouth shut, Shanda.” Sometimes I think I talk too much. There are a lot of times lunch dates turn into counseling sessions and shopping sprees turn into pep talks. That’s just the way it is when I get together with other women. I become a sounding board and advice giver.
It really doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it, and I’ve resolved that God has called me to share His word with other women, and to encourage them to keep on living for Him.
But sometimes …. SOMETIMES …. I get sick of the sound of my own voice. So on this night, and at this retreat, I told myself to keep my big mouth shut.
And then it happened!
A cute little girl about the age of twenty had a question. It wasn’t directed at me. But, as I listened, my heart began to reach out to her.
Oh, no! It’s going to happen. “Pull yourself together, Shanda!”
She started to share how she felt inadequate to do anything for God. This sweet girl was continually reminded of her past and what God took her out of. She can’t imagine doing anything for Him because of who she used to be?
How can she overcome her past and is it possible God can use her?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? It’s like the ghost of Christmas past won’t leave you alone, except he’s there to remind you of how bad you used to be.
Fire Shut Up In My Bones
As I sat there telling myself not to say a word, it was like the word of God began to well up inside of me. Like Jeremiah vowed to walk around with his mouth shut, refraining from speaking the words of God, I told myself this wasn’t my conversation.
But just like Jeremiah could not keep his mouth from speaking God’s word because it was like fire shut up in his bones, I too had to speak up and answer this young girl’s question.
Can God use you in spite of your past?
If you struggle with where you’ve been and wonder if God will use you, I got you! And because I can’t keep my mouth shut when it comes to sharing what God has to say about this, I’m going to share with you what I shared with that precious young lady.
You Are An Overcomer
Revelation 12:11 says, “We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.” That means because you gave your heart to Jesus and He changed your life, you are an overcomer.
We don’t glamorize our past, but we don’t sweep it under the rug either. We don’t boast over the fact that God accepts us because of our past, but that He changed our past and gave us a future.
Don’t forget where you came from. We must speak up and tell others it’s because of Jesus we are able to do the things He has called us to do. Don’t allow your past to cripple you from living the life God has called you to.
Stop Dwelling on What Used to be to Overcome Your Past
When God does a new thing in your life, that becomes your testimony. But, so many times we focus on what was instead of what can be. We dwell on our past mistakes and the mess we used to be in instead of the message God makes out of the past.
In Isaiah. 43:18-19, the Lord speaks to this very issue with Israel. He says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
If we dwell on the past, we become stuck in the now. We can’t, and we won’t move forward.
The Power of the Cross to Overcome Your Past
The beauty of the cross is that God accepts us as we are. The power of the cross is that He doesn’t leave us as we are. Boast in that. Boast in the fact that you are a new creation.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”
Thank God you aren’t who you used to be. And God uses your testimony to give hope to others. Don’t forget where you came from, but don’t let it keep you from moving forward either.
Do you know there are plenty of examples in God’s word that shows He uses people with risqué pasts?
Do you remember Rahab, the harlot? She is the great, great (and add some more greats) grandma to Jesus. She was grafted in because God changed her life.
Do you remember Tamar? She tricked her father in law into sleeping with her so she would have an heir for her family. She is also the great, great (and more greats) grandma to Jesus.
I could go on and on and remind you of the mistakes made by Abraham, David, Sarah, Rebekah, but I won’t. You get what I’m trying to say.
Can God Use Me In Spite of My Past?
The answer is yes! And not only will He use you in spite of your past, He will use the testimony of your past and present to guide your future and the future of others. Your testimony of how God saved you will give hope to others who feel enslaved by their past.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and share who you used to be compared to who you are now, all because Jesus came into your life.
Today, I challenge you to share with one person who you used to be and how God changed you. Is there someone who’s been on your heart that needs some hope? Your testimony is that hope.
Don’t be afraid to speak it. When you do, that is how you overcome and break free from the past that shouldn’t haunt you anymore. You are an overcomer, my friend. And you have a testimony to share with the world.
Podcast Episode 3 will help you overcome your past!
If you enjoyed this post, click here to listen to episode 3: God Doesn’t Accept Your Mess, He Cleans It Up!
You can also listen on iTunes.