August 1, 2019
Looking Back Isn't as Bad as You Think
"Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble ..." Psalm 107:2 (ESV)
Recently, I sat in my parents' garage, surrounded by boxes and boxes of memories from our family's past. I looked through pictures, old school records and even trophies from my father's boxing career over 50 years ago. My mom's been known to save everything, and my dad may or may not have had his very first baseball glove from 1956 stored in one of those boxes! If I'm honest, I love the nostalgia that comes from looking back at where we all started.
My parents showed me pictures of them dating and then eventually getting married in Las Vegas. There were pictures of my brother and me feeding goats, riding horses and living on a farm. So much about those photos seems like another lifetime, especially since I don't remember those days. Then there were the trophies from my high school track career. My favorite photos were the ones of my grandparents living in Japan in the '50s.
Looking back at where we've been is fun and exciting, until you get to the hard stuff. If we're honest with ourselves, we don't mind looking back on pictures from weddings, births and high school graduations - but we don't dare look back at other times in our lives. We all have seasons we wish we could put into a vault, throw away the key, and never think about again.
For you, that might be an eating disorder, an abusive past, a season of extreme yelling at your kids, or infidelity in your marriage. For me, there are years I wish I could erase from my memory bank - years spent running away from God, living my life for me and me alone with no care for morality or the consequences.
After I started following Jesus, I was afraid to talk about the years I spent living for myself. And when we're honest with ourselves, sometimes we also fear talking about the struggles that happened during our walk with Jesus for fear of what people will think about us.
Over the past 20 years of following Jesus, I've learned something important about looking at the past. Rather than seeing myself as a failure who made oh-so-many mistakes, I see myself as a human who can't help but make mistakes. And instead of seeing a disappointed God who wishes He'd never created me, I know my heavenly Father looks at me and sees a child He loves, adores and sent His Son to die for.
When we look at our past through the lens of the gospel, everything changes. When we look back and see Jesus rescuing us, we can speak about our failures and blunders. That's when we get to point those around us to the God who loves us so much that He would choose to save us - even with the full knowledge of all the mistakes we would make. This is when we get to show the world that we are a redeemed people! Psalm 107:2 says, "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble."
Looking back at memories of high school crushes, sport championships, wedding day bliss and birthdays shows us the whole story that led to the person we are today. But the same is true when looking back at our failures, the things we never want to share. When we see how far God has brought us and how He lavishly loves and continues to mold us to look more like Him, we can proclaim His goodness to a world of people longing to be loved in spite of themselves.
Dear God, Your love for us is extravagant and bigger than we could ever imagine or deserve. Father, please help us to remember where You have brought us so that we can continue to proclaim Your goodness to the world around us. Your love changed our lives and continues to change our lives. We want to shout that truth from the rooftops for all to hear. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 8:38-39, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (ESV)
Psalm 107:1, "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" (ESV)
Jamie Ivey is the author of If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free, where she unpacks the way she found freedom from her past through the saving grace of Jesus.
You can also connect with Jamie on her podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, where she interviews women who are using their lives to point others to Jesus and bring encouragement to all who listen.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What have you been afraid to talk about with your friends for fear of what they would think about you?
If you've been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, how can you share that with others by talking about some of the hard things in your life? Join the conversation, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
© 2019 by Jamie Ivey. All rights reserved.