Would it be fair to say that you have something in your past that you wish you wouldn’t have done? Something you regret? Someone you hurt you wish you hadn’t? A dark moment that you’d do differently if you only could? If you’re like most of the human race, you probably have several such things lurking in your past. And from time to time, they probably tug on your conscience.
The past does have a way of creeping into our thoughts and affecting our future. Try as we might, we can’t always escape the consequences of our prior actions, and sometimes the residual effects of our past affect us in unpredictable ways. So what do we do when faced with our own history? Is there any escape from the regret we feel? Any way to truly put the past in the past?
Fortunately, the answer is yes! God has made provision for our forgiveness and our path forward. His mercy is actually part of his very character and when we turn to him and sincerely seek his forgiveness, he does not withhold it from us. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9) God actually wants to forgive us.
In twelve step recovery programs, dealing with the past is paramount to success. From the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 63-64: “We launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.”
Indeed, in AA, steps 4-9 all deal with setting the past right. Steps 4-7 primarily focusing on setting our relationship with God right and steps 8-9 solidifying that spiritual direction by pursuing reparation with those we have hurt. Few people realize that the twelve steps are based on Biblical principles, which certainly explains why they have been so successful for so many. Turning to God is the natural solution for our Creator longs to render us aid!
So when those darker things from your past creep into your today, turn to the one whose very character is defined by his love, grace, and mercy. Find a close friend, confidant, or spiritual leader and make your confession. You will feel an instant and tangible easing of your burden, like having a weight taken off your shoulders, and you will start to feel a new freedom and a new nearness to your Creator. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)
God loves you. More than you will ever know or understand.
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