One of the coolest things I’ve ever heard Counselor Tonya say is, “Any time I tell my story, I’m kicking shame to the curb.”
Do you think about sharing your story that way or do you keep your past quiet, hoping no one will ever know the “truth” about who you used to be? Do you let shame keep you from sharing how far you’ve come? Two of Satan’s greatest tools against us are shame and isolation. Don’t ever underestimate his deception. Ephesians 6:10 calls them “schemes” of the devil. The greek word is “methodeia.” Satan uses specific methods of trickery and deceit, tailored to our weaknesses, against us. He wants to do all he can to make sure you keep your story all to yourself. If he can paralyze you with fear and self-doubt, he knows that you’ll keep quiet and be ineffective for the Kingdom.
I don’t know about you, but that’s about all I need to know to get mad, stand up, and fight back! You may have had my past, Satan, but you don’t get my present or my future!
God, on the other hand, knows where we’ve been, and instead of using it against us, He lovingly walks us through it and rejoices as we come out on the other side. And we don’t just survive it, do we? We come out different. We’re changed. We’re more beautiful. Only God can do that! Only He can bring joy from ashes and turn that sorrow into something good. He molds us and refines us in to someone who is braver, stronger, and more able – not because of any power of our own, but because of His power IN us. Those periods of trial? Often those are the seasons of our greatest growth, and are the times we walk most closely with Him. He turns our mess into a beautiful gift!
When you share the story of where you’ve been and what He’s done, you are worshiping Him for His faithfulness in your life, AND you are sharing the Gospel – the good news – with a lost and hurting world. You’re saying, “You can have this hope too. He loves you too! He is in the business of redeeming stories, and yours can be redeemed too!”
Do we take pride in our bad choices of the past? Certainly not. We feel sorrowful and repent. But then we MOVE FORWARD. Guilt and shame are not God-authored and should be recognized for what they are – lying schemes of the devil. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul talks about different kind of sorrows. He is thankful that the Corinthians’ sorrow over their sin has led them to repentance. But he adds this, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and LEAVES NO REGRET, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Did you catch that? God’s kind of sorrow over the past leads to salvation (LIFE) and leaves no regret behind. Satan’s kind of sorrow leads to DEATH. Do not let him yoke you with the heavy burden of your past. Friend, you have been set free!
I love the story in John 4 of the Samaritan woman. She is an immoral, religiously indifferent outcast, currently living in active sin. She’s not even looking for Jesus. In reality, she’s hiding. She’s at the well during the hottest part of the day, when no one else is there, because she’s filled with shame. She doesn’t want anyone to see her, to know her. But here is the beauty of our Jesus. He seeks her out. And instead of directly revealing who He is to the religious leaders or the “righteous” of His time, He specifically identifies Himself to this “sinner.” After she says that someday she knows the Messiah is coming, He says, “I who speak to you am He.” He doesn’t say who He is like this again, so directly, until the week leading up to His crucifixion.
Jesus longs to identify Himself to you as the source of your hope and healing.
And after the woman’s encounter with her Savior? She runs back to town, directly to all the people she’s been hiding from, and tells them to come see this man who is the Christ. Her encounter with Jesus has melted her shame away. And the most beautiful part is verse 39: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”
Remember this when you tell your story – your encounters with Jesus have changed you. They have transformed your heart and have set you free from shame and condemnation. And in sharing your testimony, not only do you celebrate the freedom only He offers, but you offer that freedom to those around you. Don’t let Satan shut you up when God has given you a story to tell. Jesus has set you free. And other people need to know that this same hope and freedom is available to them as well. God redeems our stories. If we know that glorious Truth, how can we possibly keep it to ourselves? Friends, let’s get the word out.
It’s the most beautiful news the world has ever heard.
“Only God can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, a victim into a victory.” (Author Unknown)