Where I'm From
There's a great song by a good 'old boy from Mississippi, Anthony Hamilton, called "Comin' from Where I'm From." In it, Anthony sings about situations from his upbringing. He sings about how he tried to stay out of trouble, tried to do good, but sometimes had to do some dirt. He then ties that experience to how he relates to others in the future, including a girlfriend who ended up being shady herself.
Hamilton's story is the story of many young men and women today. Our unfriendly past hunts us. We try so hard to leave it behind, but it rares it's ugly head periodically. We've been told that where we're from plays a crucial role in who we are today and our tomorrow. But the bad doesn't have to shape the future negatively.
Defying the odds, I want to give us three reasons why our past doesn't have to define our future for the worst.
1. Old Things: 2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The precursor to that is that we must first be in Christ. Christ's death on the cross of Calvary renews our person. We died along with him on that cross; the negative old things die the day you give your life to Christ. Believing that is key to restoring the ideal you God has got plans for. If you haven't accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please do so now. Find a Bible-believing church and feed your soul with The Word of God.
2. Renewed Focus: When you were in your old self your focus was on you. Now that you're in Christ, your attention is renewed for God. Your old person tends to tell you what you did wrong. You are imperfect; you'll always be. We are all imperfect human beings. But if we focus on God, who is the author and finisher of our faith, the Holy one who knows no sin, there is no blemish in our vision or sight. What you keep your eyes on is what you see. If you look in the rear mirror, you will see what's behind you, but if you stay focused on what's ahead, in this case, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you will see nothing but purity. He is the Lamb that was slain. He is pure. James 1:25 reminds us that blessings are ours when we stay focused on the perfect law of liberty. Jesus is the key to that perfect law.
3. No Condemnation: A convicted felon who has done time shouldn't have to relive the crime (that's a post for another day). Romans 8:1 says "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." Your past cannot affect your future negatively because you're now in Christ and there is no condemnation of you. Don't let the devil keep lead you into depression by telling you that you are condemned or of no good to the kingdom of God.
I have a great Pastor who will from time to time tell of how God changed his life from an avid sinner to one in pursuit of Christlike perfection. When he shares, it's from a place of gratitude, an acknowledgment of how unworthy he his, but still, God called him. That is my encouragement to you as you consider where you're from, what you've done in times past, and what ugly stories rare up: think of them as what they are, the past. Be grateful for your salvation, but get your mind off the negative thoughts presented of condemnation, and focus on Christ your future. Remind yourself of Romans 8:1, and thank God for a renewed focus on him.