Pushing Around the Past
Do you ever feel like you’re carrying the experiences of your past with you, into your present life? Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things that have been a part of us for so long, even if they hold pain. But, just because our past was a part of our experience, is it good to bring it into the present?
During my worship this morning, I saw a picture of myself pushing a wheelbarrow. It was piled with books and they carried the negative experiences of my life. I’d held onto them for years and would frequent the wheelbarrow, pick one up, and read from its pages. Each account was painful, sometimes confusing, and always left me sorrowful.
I realized how often the enemy reminds me of past hurts and considered the effect of nurturing the negative. Each time I set my mind on pain from the past, I became bitter and resentful, and was left feeling sorry for myself. The negative accounts of my history did nothing to bring further healing to my hurt; they just kept me reliving the sadness of the past.
We Have a Choice
Carrying around a bundle of past wounds is cumbersome. It slows us down and keeps us bound. In John 5, Jesus asked the man who had been lame for thirty-eight years one question – “Do you want to be healed?” He asks the same question of us today. Do you want to be healed, or do you want to hold onto the accounts of hurts and disappointments and be identified by them?
We may think that we have a right to carry the records of offense. Perhaps we do. But Papa God knows that we aren’t truly free to live as His daughter or son until we let them go. So Jesus offers us healing – something only He can do. But, He will wait on our answer to His question, “Do you want to be healed?” If we will say yes, He will heal the hurt, remove the rubble, and set us free.
Jesus Makes a Promise
In my vision, I realized that I needed help with letting go of the past. I was so familiar and comfortable with my books of sadness that I struggled to even want to let them go. Yet, I saw how the wheelbarrow slowed me down. As long as I held on, I couldn’t run ahead with Jesus. I wanted freedom more than my right to be right. So I surrendered to Jesus, once again, and asked Him to help me let go.
In Matthew 17, the disciples encountered a struggle – something they couldn’t do without the help of Jesus. They had been unable to bring healing to a sick boy. So they asked Jesus why and He explained what was missing in verse 20,
He told them, ‘It was because of your lack of faith. I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do!’ (TPT)
What if it were possible to be separated from our past hurts? Jesus promised in the Scripture above that if we have even the tiniest amount of faith (belief in Him) that our largest mountains (including hurts) can be moved!
Dancing Out the Promise
When we release the hurt, it doesn’t mean that others were right or that the pain didn’t happen. We’re going to release the wheelbarrow of sorrow, so we can be unburdened and free!
Standing at my wheelbarrow of books in the vision, I considered what it would mean to let go and lose the records of wrongs. For a moment, I considered keeping them, in case I needed proof of the ways I’d been hurt. Then I realized the books had done nothing positive for me. Rather, they’d kept me linked to sorrow.
I made the decision to release the accounts. I was ready to believe that the past had happened, but it didn’t have to stay with me or define me. So, in prayer, I asked Jesus to help me burn up my books of sadness. As I envisioned Jesus and I kneeling beside the pile of books they began to burn, and in time, they turned to ashes. I felt unburdened and such release that I began to stomp on the books and the ashes danced around my feet. As I thanked Jesus for revealing the weight that had held me back, my song of thanks turned into dancing! I acted out in the natural what was taking place in the spiritual, and it was cause for celebration!
The freedom I experienced reminded me of Psalm 30. Verses 11-12 are so beautifully translated in The Passion Translation:
Then he broke through and transformed all my wailing into a whirling, dance of ecstatic praise! He has torn the veil and lifted from me the sad heaviness of mourning. He wrapped me in the glory garments of gladness.
How could I be silent when it’s time to praise you? Now my heart sings out loud bursting with joy – a bliss inside that keeps me singing ‘I can never thank you enough!’
How to Keep Joy
Once we have joy instead of mourning, how do we keep it? We choose it. Paul, while sitting in prison, wrote to the people of Philippi to encourage them to choose joy. In chapter four verse eight he explains,
Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near.
How can we be joyful in every situation? Verse eight tells us:
So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.”
There’s a time for healing and a time for letting go. Perhaps you, too, need to let go of a history of hurts, disappointments, and pain. Jesus will help you burn up the painful memories and release the sadness, if you will say yes. Then you can run to where He’s leading you, free from the burdens of the past. It is possible to dance on the ashes of our painful record books and freely dance in the joy of today! All you need is the smallest amount of belief.
If you say yes, get to a quiet place alone with Jesus. He will lead the way by His Spirit. (And turn on this song!)