You’re heard the proverbial question, “If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?” Our minds flash back to that stupid mistake (or series of mistakes) we made as teenagers. Or we think of the first marriage. Or the second one. Or the third one. We may feel that residual pang of regret, even if it was 20, 40 or 60 years ago. If it was so long ago, why does it still hurt? Are we destined to bear the burden of our mistakes forever?
You made mistakes. You are NOT the mistake you made.
Look at Rahab. She was a prostitute, for crying out loud. Yet the Lord saw fit to rescue her and her family, and then marry her off to Caleb. Did she have regrets? I’m sure of it. When we come into relationship with the Lord, our sins get scrubbed clean, but we still have our minds to deal with. I’m sure Rahab and Caleb had some interesting marital conflicts in their early years. But they stuck it out and were named in the lineage of Christ. How’s that for redemption? How did she do it? How did she remove her old identity and embrace her new identity? As a former prostitute, how could she walk into the tribe of Israel and hold her head high, knowing she was redeemed?
How can we make the connection of our clean hearts and regretful minds?
How can we connect the 18 inches between them so we won’t feel the burden of our mistakes every day?
Maybe you broke relationship with someone. Maybe you slept with someone you weren’t married to. Maybe you lacked integrity at your job and got fired. Maybe you used illegal substances and it ruined your marriage. Maybe you made a foolish decision that caused lifelong consequences.
Those were mistakes, but you’re not an evil person. You don’t wake up in the morning wondering who you can wound and hurt during the day. The mistakes you’ve made point to a broken part of your heart that can only be healed by the Healer of the brokenhearted.
Psalm 147:3 says He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Through Jesus, you can overcome the mistakes of your past.
Think of the imagery this verse paints for us. When I was in high school, I had to bind up my ankle before every track meet. I took great care and patience to wrap it correctly so I wouldn’t sprain or injure it when I pounded my feet with every sprint. Things take time to heal. Physical wounds don’t heal overnight. Heart wounds don’t heal overnight. But healing does come. The Healer is always faithful to His people.
Once I was very angry at a woman who abused my trust during a business transaction. Even though our dealings were over the phone, I was greatly wounded by this woman’s harsh words and tactlessness. After our business was finished, I was still fuming at how she treated me. During worship one Sunday, the Lord whispered in my ear to bring my hurt to Him. But she was wrong! I answered. She hurt me, and she liked it! He reminded me that I needed to forgive her and that He was ready to heal my wounds. In my imagination, I saw Him taking pieces of my heart, gently binding them back together and covering my heart with healing balm. As I trusted in His healing power, I began to heal. I allowed forgiveness to flood my weary soul, and I released the offender to the care of the Father.
In the same way I released the offender, God releases us from the pain we cause Him.
Even when we’re stupid and foolish, He gives us a way out — a way to reforge brokenness with Him. He doesn’t hold our mistakes over our heads. Jesus takes the sins and mistakes to the cross, which reforges our connection to God. Releasing the mistakes to Him is the key.
Repenting of the mistakes and not continuing to make them is vital. Your mistakes don’t define you. The One who forgives defines you.