Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.


Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Christ followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God.Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ.

The past has no hold on you.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a blessed day!

Hope Wissel, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Waiting on Prayers to Be Answered

“The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him.” Lamentations 3:25a (AMP)

Waiting combined with patience are not two of my strong points.  I am a “wave the magic wand” kind of girl.  I want instant relief – you know the pounds to just melt away, the pain to go away, the confidence to magically appear – do you see where I am coming from?  I see prayers answered quickly (or so it seems) for others.  I long for the answers.  You know the grass is always greener on the other side theory. As time creeps on, my doubts creep in.  The doubts are not really about God’s ability to answer my prayers but more on my worthiness to receive the blessings.

As I look back on my life, I can see where it always seemed to take time for my prayers to be answered – or at least longer than I thought it should.  As time went on and my answers didn’t show up, I’d get discouraged and frustrated. My waiting turned to worry. My perseverance shifted to pouting.

pouting baby

As I began the journey with my counselor/life coach and began reading the Purpose Driven Life, I have to admit that I am beginning to see the invisible wall that I built around my heart so I wouldn’t be disappointed if God didn’t answer my prayers.  It is a wall built by endless fear, hurt, lack of self-esteem and the belief that despite saying the words “God has forgiven me” for my mistakes – I haven’t forgiven myself.

Can you say “adjustment disorder”?  Adjustment disorder is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event.   When did my brain forget that this was a short-term condition???

Now, I am wondering what it looks like to have an attitude of hope and expectancy as I wait for my prayers to be answered.  According to a devotional that I read, here are three ways to shift my focus:

God’s Promises: I read Bible verses every morning.  I pray that God will fill me with hope and encouragement.  I believe in Gods unfailing love and faithfulness.  Unfortunately, some days, I think that His promises are for others but not for me.

Praise & Worship: I listen to praise music throughout the day in my house, car and in my office.  In those sweet moments, my worries fade, turning my doubts into confident expectancy.  I feel like anything is possible.

Thanksgiving: I thank God for EVERYTHING especially the miracles in my past. I remember how God always came through in those tough times, and the times of great need. I struggle though with thanking Him in advance for His yet to come answers.

As I wait for God’s answers feeling like I am waiting longer than I planned, I am going to take a moment to thank Him in advance for His answer. I am going to trust that He is working behind the scenes on my behalf. I am not going to give up.

Lord, thank You for remaining faithful to me. Help me have hope and expectancy as I wait for Your answers to my prayers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.