I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard for me. It’s hard sometimes to believe that I am where I am today. At 42, I have a beautiful wife that supports me, God has restored the relationships with my kids, we attend an amazing church and I have a job that I really enjoy. While some of y’all know the me before Christ, some do not. My past and present are a living example and testimony to John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
It’s hard at times because the enemy (the devil) sets up ambushes and sometimes I’m not ready. Of course, ambushes in the spiritual and mental way. Flash backs from the past if you will. Reminders of who I was before Jesus. It can be overwhelming; so overwhelming that I find myself putting the shackles back on. I find myself becoming sad and semi withdrawn. Fear creeps in and I become afraid; afraid I will return to my old self, my old ways.
The thoughts of being in prison can become intense, like I just got out this morning. The thoughts of heavy drinking and sometimes drug use can seem as if I just recovered from a hangover yesterday. Memories of being mean, angry and violent feel as if I just had an episode of rage.
If I am not careful, if I am not prepared, they can bring me down. Ephesians 6:10-19 reads “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.”
I have realized in the past few years that I can’t change anything that has happened. It is what it is. I also can’t change how others perceive it. Especially the ones directly impacted by my past. What I can do is control the here and the now. I can choose how I respond to the memories. I can dwell and sulk on them, allowing my past to determine my present and future. Or I can trust in Jesus, the one who can truly save, redeem and transform my mind. It’s my choice.
Without Jesus I am nothing. Without Jesus, I am the man in my past.
The truth is: you can live your life being the best person you know how to be. You could be even better a person than Mother Teresa. But ff you don’t have a personal relationship with the Risen Savior Jesus, your life means nothing.
We all have a past. We were all born sinners. Without Jesus we will die sinners. The shackles are relative to each person’s struggles. It could be something like lust, not telling the truth, the love of money or the love of self, just to name a few.
When the devil comes at me like that he has the shackles in hand. While he can’t put them on me, he can bring up my past and I can choose to put them back on myself. I can discard the salvation found in Jesus and allow my past to define me, allow it to consume me. What choice will you make?