“Our strength grows out of our weaknesses” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Past. We all have one. When we say someone has a history we usually mean something negative that they’ve done or that happened to them. Things that we don’t want to think about, things we’re not proud of. Things that we’re sure if people knew they would never see us the same way, or drop us as friends because we’re so vile.
There’s the girl who’s done stuff with guys, let them use her, physically or emotionally. And she walks around every day with those scars, unwilling to let them heal because she’s afraid it will happen again.
That guy who was addicted to something that was horrible and he knew, but he isn’t any more and he does everything he can to forget it.
The parent who said or did something horrible to a child and they live with it everyday.
It’s the first thing they think about in the morning and the thing they still pray for forgiveness for when they go to bed.
We walk around everyday scared of our past as if it’s a monster that will eat us. The past affects everything we do, how we approach our friends, family, relationships, even God. But it doesn’t have to, we only think it does. With help, we can choose whether our past defines our present and future or whether it just affects it.
“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” – Oscar Wilde
Like I said earlier we all have a past, even famous people or successful people or powerful people. The people you look up to? They have a past as well.
Now I’m not saying He did anything bad, because obviously He didn’t. But his family however did. We can start off with Adam and Eve, created perfect and brought sin in to the world. Not the greatest move.
Abraham. He slept with his wife’s servant because he didn’t believe God’s promise; and after he finally had a child with Sarah he sent Ishmael and his mother away. We could go farther about his lying about his wife being his sister too and many other things. Good role model.
Jacob. He impersonated his older brother and lied to his father to receive the birthright: THE most important thing for the oldest child at that time.
Rahab. A prostitute in Jericho.
David. He lusted after a woman he saw bathing, sent her husband to the front of a battle to kill him and get his wife for himself.
And that’s just in Jesus’ family. There are many other examples in the Bible of people who mess up, who have a past, a history, being used by God for good. Moses killed an Egyptian guard and buried him in the sand. He’s a murderer. Jonah ran the opposite way, got put where he was supposed to be, actually saved people and then complained that God didn’t smite them. Great guy! Paul, he killed Christians and held people’s coats at the stoning of Stephen. He’s an accessory to murder.
There seems to be this misconception that if you’ve done something wrong, or something bad has happened to you that you’re broken and you can’t do anything; that being broken means we’re less valuable or unworthy of love. Listen to me when I say this, this is NOT true.
Eucatastrophe, a word coined by J.R.R. Tolkien that means a bad situation that is revealed to actually be fortunate.
Every person from the Bible I’ve mentioned above was used by God after their past. They had a choice, Rahab didn’t have to help the spies get in and out of Jericho, Paul decided to do a 180 and follow Christ and became on the greatest evangelists in history. It all came down to a choice, to either do the right thing, or ignore it. They didn’t let their past define who they were; it informed who they were. God used their past to help them later on.
“Jesus, overhearing, replied, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” – Mark 2:13 (MSG)
God uses the broken, beaten and battered. Why? Because they see things that others don’t. They see where people are hurting and can help them because they’ve been there too. They use their perceived weakness as strength.
The night was April 14, 1970. Three men were in a space capsule 200,000 mi from earth, when something went horribly wrong. The number 2 oxygen tank on Apollo 13 had exploded. The tank was venting oxygen and the explosion had damaged the service module making a return from the moon impossible. The mission was immediately aborted and changed to getting the 3 men back to earth. Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise were in trouble. They had 3 minutes of oxygen left and because they lost tank 2 they also lost power. So they shut off power to the service module and used the battery back up, which didn’t have enough power to power the guidance computer that was needed to get them home. Houston had to figure out a way to allow them to power everything up with the limited battery power they had. So they called in Ken Mattingly. He was originally supposed to be in the spacecraft but had contracted measles and was not allowed to go up. He was called in to help fix the problem with the power and after hours of working on it with other engineers, they figured out a way to power up the command module to get Apollo 13 back home.
Being benched at the last second was one of the worst things that could happen to an astronaut before he went up. But had it not been for Ken Mattingly being grounded the men of Apollo 13 may have never gotten home. Just because something bad has happened in our past, or to us doesn’t mean that we aren’t valuable and that we can’t do something good in the future. You never know what good will come out of something bad.