No Turning Back

I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.

 Such a beautiful hymn sung in many church services as an invitation to come to the altar and accept Christ as one’s personal Savior. An invitation to come, be cleansed of all sins, and not look back on one’s former life. An invitation that is often accepted without any idea how to actually move forward and put the past behind. No idea how to not still feel utterly lost, and learn how to cling to His promises and remove the stigma of a painful past.

How do I know? Because I have been there, and throughout the last several weeks as I embarked on a journey with brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world through an on-line Bible study, I learned that even though I had been made new, I still had not fully let go of all of my past hurts. I did not fully understand the impact these events had on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

See, I did not grow up in church. Jesus was known in our home simply because we saw his face on the top of the wooden case that sat on our coffee table. A wooden case that held The Holy Bible. A Bible that held locks of hair from my brother’s and my fist haircuts. A Bible that was never actually read.

We heard about God. We knew his judgment would come when we broke a commandment, and the Serenity Prayer was hung in our kitchen reminding us to call on God to help us accept the things we could not change. What I knew of God consisted of what I saw on our kitchen walls and coffee tables, and that you didn’t need to go to church to talk to Him, to seek Him, to pray.

I also wanted to know nothing of this God that allowed me to endure some of the pains of childhood, adolesence, and most of my late teens. I didn’t want to accept that God would allow some of the things from my past to happen. Personally, I wanted nothing to do with Him, or His serenity.

So, when I did finally seek Him, when I did finally lay my cross at Jesus’ feet, I also knew nothing of what it meant to turn away from my past. I spent many years as a “saved” woman trapped by the decisions, hurts, and pain from my past. Dappling in a lifestyle that made up my old life, and still not fulfilling the call to love others, speak kindly to them, and accept others in Christ’s image.

I had been saved, but I was still very lost. I had been cleansed of my sins, yet, I was still holding on to them.

No turning back. No turning back.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

However, Satan wants us to remain lost in our past. And even though I have come a long way in my walk with God, I am still a victim of the devil’s taunting. So, I don’t believe that it is by accident, that this week as I begin steps to be licensed as a pastor in my district, that Satan wants me to feel thoughts of discouragement, condemnation, and shame about my past. He wants to consistently remind me that my past makes me unworthy to be a pastor, to be a child of God, to be loved by Him.

No turning back. No turning back.

I left my past by the cross when I accepted Jesus. The same Savior who gently urged me to give all my burdens, my sins, and my failures to Him. Yes, I had an unplanned pregnancy at 18. Yes, I lived in sin, married, and divorced all by the age of 22. And for many years I wreaked havoc on my body with an eating disorder, I drank, partied, condemned others, and lived only for myself. The devil may want to use these sins and mistakes to keep me focused on myself, my pain, my sorrows, and not on the cross. He may want me to believe that I am unworthy of ever being a shepherd of God’s people.

But, I know differently.

“Of all things lost and gained, the courage to repent might just be the most significant for me.” Lysa TerKeurst

Jesus has overcome my sins. Through His blood, I have overcome my past.

My past is just that-my past. Full of failures, full of disappointments. Full of sorrows. Full of sin. But, that doesn’t mean God cannot use my crumbled and broken past to glorify Him. That he can’t use my past life choices to help someone else see hope. That he can’t use my past sorrows to help someone else see happiness and joy. That he can’t use my past sins to help someone else pick up their cross, and lay it at Jesus’ feet.

See, there is another song we also sing. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

I, January, once was lost, but now I am found. Was blind and now I see.

I see a future, not defined by poor food and health choices. Not defined by my choice to hate and starve my body. Not defined by my past decisions. Not defined by Satan’s lies, but by God’s promises. A God who promises hope, a future, and a life eternal.

No turning back. No turning back.

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10 Comments

  1. I loved your blog post and your openness to share your story with us. I have always noticed that God loves to use people who are open and honest about their lives to bring healing to His lost and broken children. January, you will make a good pastor as long as you stay #courageous and #CraveGod with all your heart. He has you in the palm of His hand, right where He wants you.

    Blessings,
    Barbara P. (P31 OBS Small Group Leader)

    1. Thanks, Barbara!
      Satan certainly tries his hardest to discourage us from sharing stories of God’s grace.
      Thanks for your kind words and stopped by and reading!

      Blessings, January

  2. Great post January and very timely for me as I have been struggling mightily lately in the constant battle between my walk with God and reconciling my past. I even prayed the other day asking God to show me how to do this, how to let go of a lifestyle that while it never brought me anything good for some reason I still crave. Your post helped me more than you know, thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. I am always grateful when God uses my brokenness and struggles to help someone else! It helps me realize that my past can truly be used for good, while it helps others know they are not alone! I pray for you on your journey! He has already overcome your past!

      Blessings,
      January

  3. January, that you are able to see the beauty in being found – and that you are pressing on – that is the glory! I pray He continues to open your eyes to all of the ways that He loves you tenderly.
    Missy (OBS Blog Hop Team)

    1. Missy,
      The glory of being found is far better than the condemnation from the devil of my past!

      Thanks for stopping by and reading.
      Blessings!
      January

  4. Follow God courageously!! He has only big and wonderful plans for you, to give you a future and a hope!! One choice at a time!!

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