How many of us live with Technicolor memories of painful mistakes we’ve made or have perpetrated upon others, illicit behaviors we’ve willfully engaged in which have left us with painful memories etched into our minds that we can’t seem to shake and that come to our remembrance much too often?
I’d venture to guess there’s a lot of us who, even as Christ followers, struggle to fully believe God for his forgiveness.
Maybe you’re seeking God right now but keep running because those memories have such a strong hold on you. And strong holds are just that — they get in the way of knowing and experiencing the complete and absolute forgiveness of God and thus the freedom we can have as Christ followers.
Luke 15: 11-21, I believe, holds several keys that can help.
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While the temptation of a better life out from under parental control overcame the younger son, he quickly found his choices led to ruin in more than just a financial way (v. 13). Financial need, loss of moral direction, other compounding negative life events, all of these and more, God can use to turn us around and point us to him (v. 14-16).
Whenever we get the revelation that life isn’t working the way we planned, that our own efforts have only gotten us deeper into the barnyard of life, that’s the time to humble ourselves, letting go of our pride (as that’s the biggest obstacle to receiving forgiveness) come before God and confess we’ve blown it and don’t have the answers we thought we had (v.17-19).
Confession aligns our heart and mind with God’s, but it must not be lip service. Lip service may assuage your emotions for a time, but it won’t give lasting peace. Since God already knows your circumstance and what got you there, speaking truth and admission of guilt will begin the healing process. There is just no other way. The Holy Spirit takes those words from our mouth through our ears, into our heart and there begins to minister healing to our soul.
But then we’re faced with another choice, will we believe God actually forgives us?
The picture scripture leaves us is full restoration (v. 20-24) and that is truth, but the minions of Satan will do everything they can to make you believe God hasn’t listened, that you’ve committed too many sins, that you are the exception to God’s forgiveness, that restoration is not possible for you, whatever.
But the word of God in 1 John 1: 9, Psalm 32:5, and Romans 8: 1-17 to list a few, say’s differently. I guess the question is, will you choose to believe by faith what God’s word says or continue to put yourself at the center of your world?
If you do the latter, remember what got you in your predicament in the first place: your self-centered pride.
So what’s it going to be, surrender or continue to go around the same mountain, bondage or freedom? One brings life, the other death.