All this looking back has me looking back into my past experiences, reliving some of the moments and sharing them with others. It is amazing to me how often we refer to our experiences and use them as a point of reference. We take the good from them and use them to help someone else, mold ourselves into what God has created. Through those experiences we share with others and or allow them to change our own lives. Our past experiences, I think, both define us as well as redefine us, all at the same time and all in good ways. Even the bad ones help make us a better person if we allow God to use them. God ultimately defines who we are through Christ Jesus, and in doing so, we identify with Christ's suffering. I must embrace the suffering I sometimes go through in hopes that they will mold, shape, map, define and create in me the person God intended me to become until the day I meet Him face to face. I believe what I learn here is only preparing me for greater works He is preparing for me in heaven. The choices I make, some good and some not so good, define where I have come from, redefine who I am, but don't define who is the I AM. As long as I take His definition and apply it to my life and use them for His purpose, His glory and His plan then I am redefined in His eyes. Philippians 4:8-9 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable----if anything is excellent or praiseworthy----think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-----put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you". If we only focus on the past of either what someone else has done, either to themselves or to us, or what we have done to others or to ourselves, then we miss the point of Grace. Why do we run from Grace? "It's a good thing and we all need it", my pastor proclaims this morning. When we pray to God we expect Him to listen, to stop and listen and come to us, so why are we not returning the favor? Why are we not running to Him as we expect Him to run to us? Do we think God is going to do something to us? In reality, God wants to do something WITH US?
God is doing a work in me. Hallulujah! As I reencounter parts of my past life, I can embrace it. I have seen how far God has taken me from that place. I can be joyful about the progress I have made since then. I refuse to let any past thing define who I am, but at the same time see how God redefines me because of it. 2 Cor. 4: 16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal Glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal".