Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1
If you read my story in Undaunted, you know that I was left in a hospital, unnamed and unwanted – that I was marginalized because of my ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic background. I was also sexually abused as a child for many years. Men I trusted betrayed that trust and my innocence.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “abuse” as using an object for a purpose other than that for which it was designed. For twelve years, I was used for a purpose for which I was never designed. Let me tell you, that messes with you big-time. But these things did not stop God from using me. In fact, His determination was unstoppable! He used me not in spite of my past but because of my past!
The reality is that nothing I say or do will change those things. The past is set and can’t be changed. What happened, happened. But I can make choices today that will determine my future. And so can you. By putting God at the center of our lives, by dealing with the issues that hold us back, and by recognizing that the plans of God for our future are bigger than the pain and regret of our past, we are able to get up from wherever we are at this moment and move forward.
I am so grateful I reconciled my past in Christ and moved on to the future He has for me. This decision impacts not only me but also everyone around me, including the generations that come after.
Cleaning out and renovating our internal world requires an ongoing, focused commitment on our part. If I’ve made it sound as if throwing off these things was a one-time shot that, once accomplished, was never required again, let me correct that. We must learn and continually relearn to focus on Christ in us at work.
It has taken me years of hard work and persistent prayer to throw off the pain and wounds of my past and grow through them. I’ve needed to repeatedly return to the throne of grace and seek God’s strength to forgive and grow. The work of throwing off often takes time and diligent effort.
Does this stop us from running? Of course not! Do you remember the mystery? It is as we run our race and carry our batons that we receive God’s on-the-job training in Christlikeness. We aren’t required, under our own strength, to throw off what hinders in order to take our part in the race. Instead, we are invited to throw it all off as we run our race.
If we want to be unstoppable in our race, we need to constantly challenge ourselves to clean out the internal world of our heart and mind so that we have more room to contain more of the power of God within us.
Remember, as Christ in us grows larger, our old selves grow smaller. Unloading all the baggage of old sins makes a lot of room for Christ in us to grow.
I don’t know what your past is. I don’t know what pains or sorrows or sins you carry. But I do know that God can turn all of it around and use your past to give someone else a future. That’s what Jesus does. The divine relay is all about passing the baton from one life to another, from one generation to the next. This is what happens when we answer his call, when we hear him say, “Follow me,” and respond in obedience.
Watch the video for Unstoppable:
Excerpted with permission from Unstoppable by Christine Caine, copyright Zondervan, 2014.
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Do you feel your past holding you back, crippling your future? Today, ask the Lord to help you throw off what hinders and run your race! Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily