I have been reading in the book of Acts. The journey of Saul/Paul fascinates me. The early church was rising and Paul was a big part of the mission.
You know about Paul, right? His name was first Saul and he was a devout Jew. Jesus met him on the road one day and blinded his eyes. Basically, Jesus said this to Paul, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Saul answered, "Who are you, Lord?"
Jesus replied, "I am Jesus who you are persecuting, now get up and go into the city and I will tell you what you must do."
[Acts 9--go READ. it is fascinating]
The rest is history. Paul becomes one of the greatest disciples and missionaries to ever walk the face of the Earth.
So, let's get this straight...one day Saul [later named Paul] is breathing out murderous threats to all of Jesus' disciples, and the next day he is a follower of Jesus.
Seriously though, this sounds a lot like my every day life.
One day I am a fire breathing dragon, the next day I am ironing my Sunday skirt worshipping in my loudest tone-deaf voice.
Do you ever feel this way?
I hope you said yes. Really, even if just to make me feel normal.
On the days when I am a fire breathing dragon, I find myself in a pit of despair by the end of the day.
The enemy wants me to think I am unredeemable. Unworthy. Useless.
Paul could have felt this way. He could have let his past determine his future. But, he didn't.
He walked straight on with Jesus. He left his shady past in the dust and walked on.
I am sure he left his buddies dumbfounded.
A sweet friend just said to me recently, "when we obey God, there is usually someone that gets their feelings hurt in the process." Gosh, what wisdom.
Aren't we glad Paul didn't look back?
Half of the New Testament would not be written if he would have wallowed in his past sin.
My past regrets can haunt me at times. I think about things I could have done differently or said differently. I turn it over and over in my head. It will drive me crazy if I let it.
The enemy wants me to live in guilt, condemnation and regret.
Jesus came for me to have "life and life to the fullest!" John 10:10
Paul's past helped him to have more compassion for others. It also gave him a purpose.
If Paul would have had a perfect life from the beginning I wonder if he would have ever been called? Jesus knew Paul would have a heart afire for God because He knew Paul had lived so long in the darkness.
I love how Jesus blinded Saul/Paul with light on that road to Damascus. What a perfect visual of what He does for us.
Once we step out into the darkness and into the Light of Christ, we never long for that darkness again. We want to live in the Light.
But, from time to time we step our toes back in the darkness. We want to go back and pull up what God has redeemed in our lives because we grieve our past sins. Proverbs calls this, "like a dog returning to his vomit". Proverbs 26:11
We are set free. Why would we want to be in chains again?
If we are to live lives of purpose and freedom we must walk with Him, straight ahead. Remembering His Goodness, but forgetting what lies behind.
Oh, Paul, we have so much to learn from you.
Friend, if Jesus has called you into His Light, live there. Walk on with Him.
He has so much in store for you. Immeasurably more than you can imagine.
Tell the enemy to flee when he reminds you of your past. Tell him Who you belong to. You bear the mark of Christ. Redeemed. Forever.