Our past can often be ugly, filled with ups and downs in our journey with God and at times straight up messy and dirty. I for one have a past that sometimes smells to God like a garbage bag that has not been changed for too long: it’s stinky. Though I was always a Believer, it did not stop me from going down some pretty bad rabbit holes. From a relationship that did not always honor God, to a phase of life where I had a pretty filthy mouth, sexual immorality, some bad habits and giving in to some of the world’s beliefs, I was not always walking with the Lord as I should. At one point, I gave God some areas of my life and others I quickly held tight as if in a fist and said “don’t touch this one. You can’t be in this one”. Off course, I did not actually say these words to God but how I lived my life was saying this and more, at times even very loudly. Though I had faith in God, had accepted his Son and loved Jesus (though very imperfectly), I was not honoring Him as He desired and commanded to be honored. Even after I was born again and recommitted my life to Him, I sometimes wondered, “Can God really use me? Am I really someone He wants to call His own, His daughter? It can’t be with a messy life and past like mine.” I’m pretty sure that if most people knew my entire past, they would never listen to a word I have to say about God and my church family may never let me stand on the pulpit again. Yet, God reassured me and still does every day that He loves me and desires to use me for His Kingdom.
I can already see you saying “but Keshia you don’t know my past. Mine is so much worst.” If I were sipping a cup of tea with you or holding one of my favorite Starbucks’ drink, I’d probably agree with you but only over the fact that I do not know your whole past, perhaps even none of it. But guess what? It does not matter.
God does not hold our past against us when we turn away or repent, and choose to follow Him. When you choose God, rest assured that He chooses you too in spite of your past. In fact, God chose you before the foundation of the world, well before you were in your mother’s womb or mind:
“Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love” – Ephesians 1:4 (GNT)
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I separated you for myself. I have appointed you to a be prophet, [one sharing the Good news of salvation] to the nations”- Jeremiah 1:5 (CJB) emphasis added me.
In his infinite mercy and his love, God is even able to use your past as part of a great testimony that glorifies Him. Others may dismiss you, count you out and flat out refuse to associate with you as a believer but God welcomes you. Just look at Rahab. In Joshua 2, we meet one of Jericho’s most famous and well-known prostitutes. Her name is Rahab. Now, this is a woman with a past! She did not just sin but her sin was always visible for all to see. People knew that when a man strolled by Rahab’s house, he was only after one thing and this she gave in exchange for money. The people in the city were used to treating her like trash, just someone who did not matter, someone unclean except when a man wanted something off course then it was all right to associate with her. She was surely made fun of, called every profanity name you can imagine and looked upon with disdain. However, Rahab knew about the Lord and when the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself to her, she seized it. Two Israelite spies came to investigate the land of Jericho to be better prepared to seize it but the news of their arrival quickly came to the King who wanted them dead. Rather than deliver them to the King’s men, Rahab hid the spies up by her roof. She had heard about the God of Israel and believed in Him. She also believed that He could give the victory to the Israelites should they attack Jericho.
“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you.” – Joshua 2:8b (CSB)
Though Rahab had a very tinted past, she had heard about a God who performed miracles. This was the God who had delivered the Israelites from Egypt and brought them through the Red Sea. This same God gave His people victory over their enemies, poured manna from Heaven, and guided the people through a pillar of fire by night and through a cloud by day. Rahab had heard all the reports about God and how He had redeemed his people. She heard about the great promises He made and believed He would deliver on those promises. She wanted to taste of this same God. If someone could give her a fresh beginning it was this same God. If He had done it for the children of Israel, He surely could do it for her too. As a result, she protected the spies and showed them kindness. In exchange, she had them promise that they should spare her life and her household’s as well.
I can only imagine that from the day the spies fulfilled their promise to her, Rahab became a new person. Seeing how God spared her life and her household’s, she began to live differently. This woman who had been a prostitute embrace the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and was born again. God did not hold her past against her or denied her the title of “daughter” because of it. Instead, He embraced her and made her, this same former prostitute, part of the lineage of our Savior Jesus Christ. God used Rahab to protect the spies. He used Rahab to gain the victory for His people and He used her again to be the mother of Boaz, great grandfather to King David.
Friend, if God could use Rahab and make her part of His family, the family of Believers, He can certainly use you too. His compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and grace extend beyond comprehension. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. God wants you in His family, the family He created for Himself even with your messy past. He knows just how to use it. When you come to Jesus, God does not keep a record of your past but He gives you a new life, a new identity.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5: 17 (WEB)
You have been given a new identity, are made a new creation. Buried in Christ through baptism and alive again, you are now made new, washed from the sins of your past. Others may try to hold your past against you but God is the one who has the final say. Therefore, you can rest completely secure in your new identity. You have been saved, redeemed, and justified through Jesus Christ. Today, you are now part of a new family, the family of God. So be deeply rooted in your new identity.
Wonderful, merciful Savior! I honor your name Jesus for redeeming me from my past. I praise your holy name because you have washed my sins away and made me clean through your blood. I exalt you, my God because you are good. Thank you for the new identity that you have given me. Thank you for the blood shed for me on Calvary and most of all thank you for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Help me to rest completely secure in this new identity you have given me and to live a life that honors the sacrifice you made for me. Teach me to honor you and glorify you in all I say and do. I praise you and value you for the amazing grace that you have shown me and continue to show me every day. I love you Lord and it is in the name of your Son, my Savior and friend Jesus that I pray,
Isaiah 47:4 (CSB)