For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds
2 Corinthians 10:3-4
For some of us the past is part of present warfare and it cannot be battled with emotions and questions and longings for things to be as they once were, it must be considered spiritual combat and requires weapons that are not carnal. I know more than one mother who has had drugs cost them parental rights, I know more than one father who has allowed lust to destroy his marriage and family. I know of those who did things before they were saved that they still experience the consequences of and I also know this, every one of them who are Christians would do anything to change the past. I also know that those same people can be divided into two groups, those who the past controls and those who have control in spite of their past. Some of you may need to switch groups, some reading may be living in the shadows of a sinful past when God has a glorious, even though at times painful, present. I know people who have done terrible things and paid for it and still do who are effective and powerful servants of the Lord. Does the past still hurt, yes, are they often reminded of it, yes. While their pasts may be different from one another they all employed the same weapon to combat becoming a POW, and that is, they serve God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and so can you.
God receives glory when good things are done for those in need in the name of His Son. Satan glories in hindering these good works by stifling them before they ever get started by reminding forgiven sinners of their past. Remember, we cannot be hindered from serving God by our forgiven past, only by sins in the present. I am not talking about keeping your salvation for every Christian sins after they get saved, though every temptation to sin has a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) the issue concerning current sins is usability. I bring this up because many times the despair that comes from being a P.O.W. can lead to present sins that many not be a repeat of the past but are hindering sins nonetheless. Self pity that leads to apathy, anger that stems from inactivity, doubts, fears that can lead to self medicating through drugs or alcohol.
Serving God and understanding our forgiveness are wonderful things that help keep our minds and hearts headed in the right direction. But what about the broken relationships, the estranged family members, the severed relationships with your children or the fact that no one trusts you because of your past actions? One thing I know for sure is never give up hope. God can work a miracle and it is going to require that you be faithful and selfless. When my wife took me back it was after 8 long months of silence, no communication, not one conversation. I did not know where she, and our daughter were and she wanted to keep it that way. Though this was over 35 years ago I remember the feelings like it was yesterday. I remember feeling like, is this going to be my life? Am I going to be an absentee father divorced from his wife? The pit in my stomach never left and I could not believe what I had become and done. But God was working behind the scenes in secret ways that neither of us could have imagined. A conversation did finally take place and we obviously did reconcile, but it was the years that followed the 8 months of silence that is critical for some of you P.O.W.’s to understand. Although God was moving in our relationship and it was obvious that He had brought us back together she didn’t trust me and had no reason to. Listen close those of you who desire to be restored with someone you love that you hurt, The perpetrator does not set the terms for reconciliation. Trust is essential to any marriage relationship but I had to earn it, I had to prove myself and she had every right to expect it and even demand it. This is important to establish because far too many who want to be reconciled with a loved on or family, or have the consequences of forgiven sin repealed, expect the open arms greeting and life to move forward like nothing ever happened. It is not only impossible, it is illogical. I have often illustrated the point like this; If someone goes to prison for embezzlement you don’t have to prove you have forgiven them by making them your accountant. Their past actions, though completely forgiven have given others a reason to have trust issues. I have told countless spouses over the years who have been betrayed through abuse or infidelity that the one thing to look for when considering reconciliation is unconditional surrender to the offended parties terms. When you have inflicted so much pain on others, as I did, you have forfeited the right to set terms for reconciliation. You must do what the other person needs, you must jump through every hoop and go every extra mile they demand without any demands of your own. You may be thinking; If they forgive me don’t they have to forget what I’ve done? Remember the wound/scar picture we painted in chapter 2, the same is true of abuse and infidelity or anything else that can sever a once close relationship. The wound may heal but the mental evidence of the past will remain, they cannot forget. If you are thinking that the Lord remembers our sins no more why should they, you need to recognize that the word “remember” is an accounting term and means that the Lord does not hold our sins against us anymore, the eternal consequences are removed from us as far as the east from the west. The temporal or this life consequences however can remain. If you are wanting reconciliation and another chance with someone, do what they ask and don’t ask why. (Obviously I am not talking about illegal or immoral things here) Do the things that they require to have trust restored, you may know you’re not who you used to be but you still have to prove it to them.
Yes, self inflicted wounds are often more painful than those we received from others because they could have been completely avoided, we had complete control over them and none of them needed to happen. But remember, self inflicted wounds are not the unpardonable sin.
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.