June 19, 2013

Let Go Of The Past

At the burning bush, God asked Moses an all important question that he asks us today.

Exodus 4, verses 2 and 3 say:

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’  ‘A staff,’ he replied. The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’  Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.”

So God asked Moses: What is that in your hand?  Moses said: Well, it is just an old shepherd’s staff. It is nothing really. God said okay, if it is no big deal, throw it on the ground. Give it to me. This was Moses’ last possession. He had lost everything else but he had this shepherd’s staff that was like a security blanket, it represented his past. He was supposed to lead thousands of people and be the great leader and deliverer, but who was he leading now? He was out there in the desert tending the sheep. He needed the staff to fight off the wild animals and to protect the sheep, to grab and pull them back when they were going the wrong way. He needed it to prop himself up on the hillside in the hot sun. You see, if he was going to continue being a shepherd in the wilderness, then he would continue to need that shepherd staff. But God asked Him what he was holding on to so tightly?

That is the question God asks us today.  What is it you are holding on to so tightly? Let go. You see, if you hold on too tightly, even good things can crush the life out of you. Maybe you are holding on too tightly to a dream and you are crushing the life out of it. God says:  Let it go. Give it to me. Maybe you are holding on to a relationship and you are trying to control it or control another person. You are crushing the life out of that relationship. God says:  Give it to me. Open your hand and give it to me. Maybe it is your business. Maybe it is your finances. Maybe it is your family. What are you holding on to so tightly? I know what is best and you can trust me. Give it to me. Don’t hold on to your past and your failures and your sins. Let go. Give them to me because I have a new future for you.

In fact, this verse is crucial for some of us. Isaiah 43:18 says:

“Forget the former things; don’t dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

I know God spoke that directly to some of your hearts. God wants you to know that and allow that to change your life. Memorize it, meditate on it, it is your promise. In fact, forgetting the former things is the key to turning barriers into bridges. We have to let go of the past. Guilt can be a trap that keeps us from letting go. Sin produces guilt, and we have all sinned. We have all made mistakes and been preoccupied with our own needs and desires. Sin produces guilt, and guilt is a poison that damages our relationships and health. Dr. Karl Menninger, the great psychiatrist, said that he believed half the people in hospitals today could go home if they could just learn how to get rid of their guilt. Guilt is real but the good news is guilt is unnecessary because of what Christ has done on the cross. He shed His perfect blood to wash away our sins and cleanse us so now we can be free from guilt and live a grace filled life. Grace is getting something that you do not deserve and could never earn.  Mercy is not getting the punishment you do deserve. God says I give you mercy and grace and it is free. It is really hard for us to comprehend grace but it is part of God’s plan for our lives. The way we let go of the past can be summed up in one word, grace. Grace. God’s grace.