When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.~Bernard Meltzer
“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19
Christine Caine in her awesome book Run to Win tells us that winners deal with the past. A runner cannot run on an injured limb, meaning we can’t ignore the injury and keep running because more damage can happen. This is true in our believer’s marathon; we cannot continue to run on the path God has set for us if we are injured. We have to stop racing and deal with the injury. Bernard Meltzer was a radio talk show host for years, the name of the show was, What’s Your Problem? He would share his advice on a wide range of topics from parenting to romantic problems. The above quote is a great one and so very true, we can’t change the past, but we can change the future. I would also like to point out that God does not take us out of the race, we do. An unforgiving spirit is what took me out of my race for years. I won’t be specific on what it was that caused me not to forgive, but let’s say that it was major.
What are some things that we can do specifically to deal with the past? For me I had no idea what it was I had to face because it happened so long ago. When I realized I needed to forgive, I prayed that God would reveal to me what it was that was causing me the pain. This was actually the main reason I gained all that weight over the years because that was how I “dealt” with the pain. Prayer is the first step toward facing your pain and dealing with your past. God wants your anchor firmly planted in His grace, not dragging behind us reminding us that the pain is still there. Prayer will be answered in God’s time and He will reveal what it is that is causing your pain. For me it took two weeks for me to realize what it was.
The next step after prayer is to face the pain. In my case, it was to forgive. Probably most of the pain we are faced with from the past has something to do with a person that had done something that we felt we could not forgive. Hurtful words and harmful actions can be those main things that are very painful to face. When you face that pain, God will not allow you to face it alone. He surrounds us with angels in the form of people that want to see good stuff happen in our lives. Close friends will not judge you or the pain you have suffered; they will strengthen and encourage you through the facing of the pain. Most people don’t choose to face their pain, they try to cover it over with habits or people that cannot fill the void God can fill when we are intentional about facing it.
The last step is being graceful and merciful. Forgiveness is grace in action. Mercy is love in action. In moving past your pain, it takes some major courage to face it. Grace gives us a reason to be courageous. When we forgive, we find the endurance we need to get back on the running path of our believers marathon. Forgiveness cannot change the past as the above quote says, but it can set up our future because we are back on the running path. You cannot have grace with forgiveness without mercy and love. Mercy is unconditional love in action. It means after we forgive we do our best to be merciful to the person who may have hurt us, no matter the hurt. The person that hurt me has been long out of my life, so there is no possible way to have any relationship of any kind. I don’t even know if they are alive, but I pray for them and hope they have faced the pain they had to cause my pain. God rewards an attitude of mercy because it reflects His love for us. Without His mercy, we would not be here. God’s judgment would overtake us. Jesus is God’s mercy in action and because of him; we don’t have to worry about God’s judgment. This last step is the very tough, and may take some time to happen. Sometimes the hurt is so deep it takes time to remove it God can and will heal the pain, because we took a step closer to Him when we forgive.
With prayer, facing our pain, and giving grace and mercy we will find ourselves back in our believer’s marathon. It’s never God’s intention to leave us in the past with our pain. He wants to heal us from that deep pain and move us forward into a path of strength and endurance. Winners deal with the past, because they forgive and find mercy for the source of the pain.
Have you ever had a pain from the past that was keeping you from moving forward in the path God has planned for you?
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.