Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back means I'll have to face my past. I've been running from it for so long.
[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick]
Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for?
Rafiki: It doesn't matter. It's in the past. [laughs]
Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the from way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it.
Lately, I've been reminded of my past in some good and some not-so-good ways. Good in that I serve a merciful Savior who has never given me what I deserved...and bad in that Satan continues to use the guilt from my not-so-stellar past to create doubt and insecurity in my faith and most recently, in my call to mission work in Haiti.
Twenty years ago (which is really not all that long ago!), I was a very different person. Sure, I claimed to be a Christian. I wore the t-shirts and was in church every week. I even worked at Fellowship of Christian Athletes camps as a counselor and won Star Camp at another summer camp (I might still have that medal. Just sayin'.).
But my life was about ME - about momentary gratification of the flesh. I was all about whatever I could do to enjoy the moment. Looking back, I am grateful: 1) to be alive and 2) that my God is a God of mercy and grace who - for some reason - will NOT give up on me.
My past is marred by years of excessive drinking and partying and ultimately culminated in a failed marriage. My past is not exactly something I am proud of. In fact, I feel a lot like Simba some days and would really like to just run from it - block it out and pretend it didn't happen. I know there are people who knew me then who are SHOCKED that I have become a missionary and soon-to-be preacher's wife (some probably shocked that I'm still alive, if I'm being honest!).
And while I'm still no saint and fall on my face daily (see previous post), my focus is different. It's not about me anymore - it's about Him. And I pray that in some way, others can see God's forgiveness and grace in my life...that if He can use me in His kingdom, He can use EVERYONE! That if He can forgive me for my blatant disobedience and obvious waywardness, He can forgive ANYONE of ANYTHING!
Satan is the author of lies and creator of doubt. He likes to bring up my past...often.
But God's mercy is new every day. He's forgotten about the sins I have left at the alter (so many times I'm starting to annoy Him with them, I'm sure!) and will be faithful to forgive me for the thousands more I'm still to commit. As Brennan Manning writes in The Ragamuffin Gospel, "I have been seized by the power of a great affection."
I will never understand how God can forgive us for our mistakes (even the ones we make time and time again) but I am so grateful He does. I will never understand why He hasn't given up on me and just said (in His best gangster accent) "Forget 'bout it!" but He hasn't...and I truly believe He won't. He will continue to relentlessly pursue me - even in my waywardness and ungratefulness. "Oh, how He loves us all!"
"He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west."
Psalm 103:12 (NLT)
What a beautiful promise! Can you embrace it and let the past remain in the past? What will you learn from it?