For the past several months, I have been preaching a series of sermons from the book sub-titled “Break Free From the Bondage of your Past”: Joyce Meyer, by Richard Young. Also in this series I refer to Bishop T.D. Jakes’ book entitled, “Let It Go.”
In each of these books, the author talks about the need to get rid of excess baggage as well as the importance of forgiving, so that we can be forgiven. I would argue strongly, many of us cannot really enjoy life because we are still carrying yesterday’s hurts, mistakes and past failures. We will never experience the real joy of life until we let go and move forward in our lives. As pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church for more than 25 years, I have encountered many people who are stuck in the past. They have become angry, mean-spirited, have little or no self-esteem, and blame everyone else for their troubles.
I do not know how many people have been helped by these sermons, but I can honestly say these books have helped me to let go of some things. I believe in being transparent and vulnerable in sharing my own journey. Nothing is gained by holding on to yesterday. Bishop Jakes writes in his book, “We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds, and nursing old grudges; in order to move into the blessings of our future, we must relinquish the pains of the past.”
Richard Young writes, “Who are you helping most when you forgive the person who hurt you? Actually, you are helping yourself more than the other person”. I always looked at forgiving people who hurt me as being really hard. It seemed so unfair for them to receive forgiveness when I had been hurt. I got pain and they got freedom, without having to pay for the pain they caused. I now realize I am helping myself when I choose to forgive.
There is so much truth in what these writers have to say. There is an art to forgiveness, and when you discover that art, you are able to “Break Free From The Bondage of your Past.” Our past experiences may have made us the way we are, but we don’t have to stay that way. There is a plaque on my desk I read daily which says, “Live, Laugh and Love.” You really can’t do that when you are bound or slave to the past. Every day is a good day; let yesterday be the past, for this is the day the Lord has made, and surely we can rejoice and be glad in it. You cannot rejoice being angry, holding a grudge or being resentful. Life will pass you by, and the people you are angry with will enjoy life while you wallow in your pity. Sometimes you must write off the past so you are available for the future. There is a portion of Scripture in James 1:2 that reads, “Count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”.
I encourage you to approach each new day with trust and confidence in God. Do not worry about your enemy; according to the Word, he will make your enemy your footstool. Learn to live each day to the fullest and trust God completely. One of the blessings that come to mind is the opportunity to reflect upon my life’s journey. In the words of the songwriter, “God has been good to me; all of my good days outweigh my bad days, I won’t complain.” I have had enough setbacks and failures to be dependent on God, and enough blessings to trust in God. There were those who tried to block my blessings, but they only became steps for God to take me to a higher level.
I will use this column in the coming weeks to write this series of sermons I have preached on “Break Free From the Bondage of the Past.” I pray they will be a blessing to you.