We have seen many old buildings, most of which were in horrible disrepair due to their age, harsh weather and lack of maintenance, on our travels through the U.S. Some are not falling down [yet], just boarded up, no longer relevant to the modern era.
When I see an old barn, house, store, whatever, I think about the people who lived there many years ago.
In South Dakota we stopped at Fort Hays, outside Rapid City, and visited some buildings that were used in the movie Dances with Wolves.
Although this was a movie set, not the “real” old buildings, it still is a reminder of that way people lived in years past. No matter the actual age of the structure, structures from the past are fascinating to me. The stories that they could tell about what happened there and how people lived and acted within the structure. The past holds good and bad memories, recollections of good times that are often countered by remembrances of times that were not so good, possibly even horrible!
There are times that Satan throws our sin back in our face and we can get mired in the muck of self-pity, self-doubt, loathing, etc. In short, if we get stuck in the past by recollecting the depravity of our ways, we cannot live the abundant life God wants us to have in the present.
God is all knowing and all powerful, eternal and loving, holy and good. Reformed theology teaches that even before creation existed, God knew us, He saw all our actions and knew the words we would speak, both those that were intended and careless. The plan of salvation existed before creation, because God knew we would sin and need a Savior. Because of His love, He sent His Son to be that Savior for His children.
Paul told this truth to the Ephesians so long ago:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you have been saved;)”
This certainly is not something that I can explain, it is a matter of faith. I can, however, thank Him for the grace and mercy extended to me in the forgiveness of my sins. The Psalmist says:
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
Matthew Henry comments on these verses, in part, as follows:
As the heaven is high above the earth (so high that the earth is but a point to the vast expanse), so God’s mercy is above the merits of those that fear him most, so much above and beyond them that there is no proportion at all between them; the greatest performances of man’s duty cannot demand the least tokens of God’s favour as a debt, … Observe, God’s mercy is thus great towards those that fear him, not towards those that trifle with him. We must fear the Lord and his goodness.
As far as the east is from the west … so far has he removed our transgressions from us, so that they shall never be laid to our charge, nor rise up in judgment against us. The sins of believers shall be remembered no more, shall not be mentioned unto them; they shall be sought for, and not found. If we thoroughly forsake them, God will thoroughly forgive them. [Emphasis mine]
The difference between God and man is referenced by the prophet Isaiah where God is speaking and says:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God’s ways and His thoughts are fundamentally different from ours. When He forgives, He wipe the slate clean. There is no remnant of the sin to remind Him that we deserve punishment. Rather, He has cleaned our sin ledger with the blood of His Son and there is no longer any record of our sin before God.
So, when you begin to focus on the sins of the past, surprise Satan and tell him to take a hike. Turn your eyes to Jesus, the lover of your soul and the One who bought you with a price, His sinless blood. Don’t let your past eliminate the present. Look to Jesus and worship Him, then rejoice!
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.“
For the Christian, the antidote to living in the miserable part of your past is to rejoice for the glorious love of your Redeemer in the present and to think about the joy we will have when we see our Redeemer in the future and for all eternity to come. For the one who does not believe in Jesus Christ as his/her personal Savior, there is no escape from your past until you call upon Him and claim Him as your Savior. Do so today!
Father, Thank You for the truth of your Word and for the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a victorious life as a testimony of your marvelous, steadfast love and mercy. Forgive us when we focus on the past, when You have already erased it from our account, when You have already credited us with Jesus righteousness because of His death and resurrection, as we have come to the cross in faith and believed on Him as our Savior.