“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.”
How can the lack of forgiveness and hurt affect our walk with the Lord? So many of us walk around bound in the chains of the past and become stuck in a place of unhappiness. Everyone at one time or another experiences the pain of betrayal by someone we love and care deeply for whether it be a spouse, a friend, a child or a parent and we all also carry the experiences of our own sins and hurts that we have caused to others. It can literally destroy our lives if we let it and severely hinder our walk with the Lord if we do not let it go because we can become bound up and miss the opportunity of fully living in the present.
Once we have made Jesus Christ Lord of our life, we hand over the reins, giving Him the control of our lives able to lead us in the direction that He wants us to go. It means that we are no longer our own and have been brought back to God by the shedding of His Son's blood for us. When we allow Him to lead, we have to let go of the things in our past that are controlling us and hindering us from being able to walk in God's perfect plan for us. Jesus said that not anyone who is trying to move forward in his walk for God the Father - but keeps looking back - is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62) When we are walking with the Lord, we are to let go of the past and press forward because if we do not, we become stuck right where we are unable fully to accomplish all that God had planned for our lives. We cannot walk with Him if we are carrying loads of baggage because we are choosing the bondage of our past instead of the future He has for us. This then mean either we choose to throw ourselves pity parties, blaming everyone else for our misery or we can choose to rise up and be a brand new creation in Christ, choosing fully to surrender our lives to Him. Once we do that, He cleans out those closets and begins to heal our hearts making us usable for the plan that He had laid out for us even before we were born.
Now it is important that we learn from our past and realize where God has brought us but it cannot consume us to the point of becoming our focus. God is our healer and He is able to break away those chains and heal our hearts IF we fully believe that He can do it. For me, this came with the forgiveness of someone who betrayed my trust and hurt me deeply. I lived with anger towards this person for quite some time and every time I saw them, it would rage within me. Here is what I have learned. When someone hurts you, that person moves on with his or her life. If they have sinned and repented of this sin, for them it is over, God has forgiven them. They have moved on and God has redeemed them, giving them a new song to sing and a new life to live for Him. For those of us left in the wake of their sin, we must deal with the pain and hurt of the turbulence they caused in our lives. We are the ones who must deal with the resentment, bitterness and anger while they go about feeling freed of their past. Does not seem quite fair? Well here is what I have learned. It is totally fair because we too have sinned against someone in our own lives just like they have and we too have had to seek forgiveness from God for the hurt we've caused someone else and we too have moved on. So, why then do we dwell in self-pity and allow resentment to rage within our hearts? This is called human nature and happens when we are not willing to let go of the baggage we cling to so tightly instead of grabbing a hold of and clinging to God. You see, you cannot hold on to both things together because you cannot worship and follow God when you are clinging to the past, which has become your idol. He has to be your focus and He should be your focus because He is worth it all!
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We have to put into practice not focusing on what is behind us but instead pressing ahead toward the goal, the life God has planned. We must reach ahead and surrender every part of our lives to Him so that He can accomplish all that His plans entail for us. If not, we are allowing the past to steal our joy and happiness and distort our thinking. We must offer true forgiveness that can only come from the Holy Spirit living within us and turn it over to the hands of God and His justice. He is the One who will right every wrong ever done to us and because of this; we are able to relinquish even our worst enemy over to Him. It all comes down to us reaching out and grabbing His hand and allowing the Holy Spirit to clean up the wounds in our life so that we can live out the life that God has for us. It is our choice as to whether we will continue to allow it to strangle and paralyze our lives or say enough is enough and give God that control and move forward.