The “ink” was barely dry on “Mistakes…” when I encountered a devotional called “Start Afresh“, based on Lamentations 3:22-23. I needed that reminder that we have the opportunity to get a fresh start every morning. When we make mistakes, as we often do, we have two choices: allow our mistakes to drag us down, or give them to God and allow Him to enable us to make a fresh start.
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Boat-anchor or stepping-stone?
Many of us have allowed our past mistakes to become boat-anchors which drag us down. Maybe the consequences of our mistakes are just too overwhelming, or we can’t forgive ourselves, so we can’t imagine that God would ever forgive us, let alone allow us to move forward. Whether it is the consequences or our inability to forgive ourselves, the results are the same. We can’t move forward with our lives in any meaningful way. We are just too burdened to move forward. We have made our past mistakes our boat-anchor.
The Apostle Paul had certainly made enough mistakes to feel like he was “beyond-repair“, but as I explained in “No Rear-View Mirror“, he came to the awesome realization that God could not only forgive him, but that God DID forgive him, so he could forgive himself. The Risen Lord called him to a mission which required him to move forward with his life. His mistakes became stepping-stones to fulfilling his commission. How did his mistakes become stepping-stones? Paul was a learned Old Testament scholar, so he might have recalled those beautiful words from Lamentations 3 when he penned these profound words; “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Boat-anchor to stepping stone…
Start by telling God all about your mistakes. He already knows about them anyway, so why try to hide anything from Him? Ask Him to forgive you, and believe that He will because He has promised to forgive you. Believe that He has forgiven you, and then start forgiving yourself, and I mean REALLY forgive yourself. Don’t hold your past mistakes like a war-club over your own head. In other words, quit beating yourself up about what you have done, because beating yourself up will only make you miserable. If you really want to live a miserable life, don’t bother reading the Bible and quit reading this.
Do you want a “template” for telling God about your mistakes? Talk about blowing it big-time, King David had committed adultery with the wife of one of his generals, and when he found out that she was pregnant, he had her husband MURDERED (2 Samuel 11). When God confronted him through Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12), he penned a beautiful confession to God which has been preserved in the Psalm 51.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice; otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
18 By Your favor do good to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Did you notice the sequence of this confession?
1) David asked God to be gracious to him.
2) He admitted his sin to God.
3) He accepted the consequences of his sin.
4) He asked God to cleanse him of his sin.
5) He asked to be restored to fellowship with God.
6) He asked God to help him move forward.
I don’t see anything about David beating himself up over this. Do you?
I think that God sometimes uses us BECAUSE of what we have been through, not in-spite of what we have been through. We each bring our own unique perspectives and experiences into God’s kingdom-work, so some people may relate better to someone who has had many struggles in life where they might not relate to someone who has had a “clean” or “easy” life.
I could easily believe that I am not “worthy” to be given a mission in God’s kingdom because of what I have done, but He chose me for a mission anyway, so I am moving forward in the assurance that God HAS forgiven me and wants me to move forward. He has helped me turn what could have been a boat-anchor into a stepping-stone.
We have a sure promise from God that He WILL forgive our sins when we confess them to Him.
“If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
God has given me a fresh start. How about you?