How to Overcome a Shattered Past

How to overcome your past pain.
How to overcome your past pain. (MT Archive)

We tend to see God through our shattered perspective, and that's a big problem. With a severely damaged self-image, we generally have a broken God-image too. In fact, let's be honest; some of us believe God is great and all-powerful, but we can't imagine Him doing anything astonishing through our lives. We sing worship songs about His awesomeness, but we believe God is limited in what He can do with screw-ups like us.

A huge part of the dilemma is that we like to create gods in our own image. We make gods out of the rich and famous. We elevate leaders (including politicians and pastors) to god-like status. We put them on a pedestal somewhere prominent in our lives, but in the end it's a puny little god we've made to worship rather than Almighty God. Here's the problem: If our God is too tiny or too human (like us), then our faith and confidence in Him will be too small.

Deep down we want to believe that God can do anything, but we're pretty sure He has limits when it comes to us. Time or space might not constrain God, but a craftsman is only as good as the material he has to work with, right? And we know what we are.

More mud than marble.

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More sandstone than diamond.

More broken than whole.

I'm not a big fan of self-confidence. Despite what the positive thinking gurus have to say, I'm not okay (and neither are you). I can sit in a lotus position for hours chanting, "I am good. I am awesome. My life force in the universe matters." But in my gut I know I'm not that good. In fact, I'm pretty messed up at times.

So what's the alternative to emotional self-flogging? The substitute for self-confidence is God-confidence. (Stop and read that line again.) In other words, it's not about me. So I put my confidence and hope in God and His ability to accomplish anything through a cracked pot like me.

The god I've created in my mind has limits.

The God of the universe does not.

I am broken.

He is not.

In fact, working with people who typically are relegated to the scratch-and-dent pile of life is God's specialty.

Many of us feel we've gone too far and failed too miserably to ever get back on track. Even if God once had a great plan for our lives, we believe it's too late now. But avoiding epic failure is not a prerequisite to experiencing an epic life.

Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Rahab was a prostitute. Peter was a betrayer. Saul (aka: Paul) persecuted and imprisoned Christians. Yet each of them lived amazingly epic lives when they followed God.

We're all in trouble if the path to adventure in Christ requires perfection. We must learn to get past what we've done and get beyond our glaring inadequacies. God is bigger than our foolishness.

Perhaps you often drift in your mind to some horrendous past sin you've committed. Possibly you're devoured by your failure and overwhelmed by your foolishness. Maybe the misery of yesterday and the emptiness of today have stolen from you any joy or hope for a better tomorrow.

If that's you, please listen to these words: God knows where you've been, where you are, and where He will take you. He knows your past, present and future better than you do, but He sees a sunrise of hope on your horizon.

How do you overcome a shattered and sinful past?

You simply confess your sin and rest in God's goodness and grace. You truly can be free and forgiven because of Jesus. Let go of the things you can't change about your past, and trust God with your present and your future. He is able to redeem, restore, and renew any life that is fully surrendered to Him.

There's a reason why they call it amazing grace.

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