One really important thing that I have learned in my adulthood is the importance of coming to terms with yourself and with your life (especially the past). Life has not been a picnic for me. There were a lot of moments that I would love to change if I could, and there are a lot of things I wish I had never experienced. And I know a ton of people who can share those same sentiments about their own pasts.
But today, I see some mixed approaches being presented to people on dealing with things from their lives. One approach is to make up for all of the bad things in your past by being super ambitious and getting everything that you missed out on when you’re an adult. Another approach is to never repeat the mistakes of people from your childhood. One other approach is to completely blot out your past from your memory (as best as you can) and try to forget it altogether. There are just so many approaches you can take, and I have taken a couple of those approaches in my adulthood.
However, in the past years I started to just accept my past for what it was. Obviously, I cannot change what happened then, and I realized the foolishness of always trying to “outrun” the things that happened to me before. Thus, with God’s help, I began to go through the past hurts, experiences….just life in general, the good and the bad. There were many times where the memories brought me to tears and other times where it brought me to laughter.
The biggest thing that I did was trace the effects of various situations through my life. Now, some of the effects, I did not immediately recognize, and it took a lot of reflection, processing, and challenging myself to rethink situations. For other things, I had to lean on my most trusted friends to see if they had some insight into my situation that I could not immediately see. Finally, but most importantly, I had to spend time before God, asking Him to be truthful to me and to expose things in my life that I had been carrying. All in all, as a young adult, I began to have an ever-increasingly clear picture of myself and a better knowledge of my own “why”. That is, I began to understand why I thought the way I did, why I acted the way I did, why I made the choices I did, and so on. And from all of that, I realized how deeply I needed God to address, fix, change, and heal all of these places and parts of my life, to make me over, to make me a “new creation” in Him. And you know, over the years, as I have submitted more and more to Him, He is slowly remaking me into His image. But, it is a long, a life-long, process that every Christian must individually go through. So, the truth in all of this is that, this is not a process that you can escape, hurry through, or avoid. If you belong to God, He will grow you up and make you over in Christ for the rest of your life.
But, if I can offer you any encouragement, I offer you a truth that I have recently discovered this past year. This truth has utterly transformed my life, my thinking, my reflections, my relationship with God…everything has fully changed because of this truth. And the truth is: God is absolutely sovereign.
What does this mean? It simply means that: God can do what He wants whenever He wants because He is accountable to no one. God has no counselor. He answers to no one. He can do things that we cannot even imagine. He controls everything, and He does whatever He pleases for His own purposes.
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust…all nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.” – Isaiah 40:12-17
You may be wondering, how is this an encouragement when I’ve had a pretty jacked up life? Well, as a child of God, this is encouraging because you know that God has been, has always been, and will always be in control of absolutely everything that goes on, from your life to the furthest reaches of the universe. There is not a single thing that has occurred or can happen without His knowledge and His allowance. Now, this can be a scary thought for you if you consider all of the terrible and wicked things that have happened over time. But, as a child of God, you have this assurance: that “He who began a good work in you will complete until the day of Christ Jesus”. Thus, your assurance is that you have placed your hope in a very real God, the only true God, and you have complete knowledge that nothing (even circumstances and situations) can thwart His purposes and His work in your life.
Furthermore, you have as an encouragement from these verses that God is completely above even the very imaginations and thoughts of men. He is so high above that even the deepest scholars and philosophers have absolutely no knowledge of who He is or what He can do. The things that you think about pertaining to God are mere particles of invisible dust compared to who He is, and thus, there is no situation, no history, no past, no circumstances that have ever bothered, perturbed, or even affected Him to the slightest degree. Your encouragement is that you serve a God that is so high that it would take an eternity of eternities to even begin to know Him.
And as you serve God who is higher than anything you could even possibly imagine, you also have this encouragement: He is still intimately acquainted with every detail and aspect of your life. He knows you more personally than you even know yourself.
“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether…Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you…Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you…” – Psalm 139
Think about these words: you have never escaped the notice of God. It is such a deep and powerful thought to entertain, much less believe. Yet it is absolutely true. Not a single one of us has ever escaped the eyes of God. As a Father, He lovingly watches over us, chastising us when we need it, but constantly pouring out His love for us. As our God, He does everything for His own glory. Yes, God is solely after His glory. (Revelation 4:11; 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 10:31; Isaiah 60:21)
The creation of man was for His glory. Your birth was for His glory. Everything that you have gone through (your sufferings) was for His glory. His calling you to salvation was for His glory. And His working out that salvation in every aspect of your life is still all for His glory. It does not matter what your past was and what your circumstances are if you fully (and I mean fully) desire to glorify God in your life. If glorifying God is your chief desire and aim, then you have your entire life to be thankful for, both the good and the bad. If you take this mindset up, then there is nothing in your life that you have to be ashamed of or regret because it has all been for His glory.
And it is with this understanding of truth that I have finally put to rest my past, my experiences, my fears, and everything else that has haunted me through the years. No, I will tell you truthfully that I do not have an answer or a reason for why I went through everything I did. Honestly, there are plenty of things that I still don’t understand why “it had to be me”. But, I trust that God’s Word is true, and I trust that He knew me and what I went through, even when I did not know Him. And I finally have peace and contentment no matter what my experiences are because I know that they have served to glorify God, and because I love God, I deeply desire to glorify Him in everything. So, it has made all of the moments of my life very light troubles because the joy I have knowing that He was glorified in all of it is worth more to me then the pain of that moment. I also know that I do not know what kinds of things lie ahead of me, but if I remember that all of these things are for His glory and that He has never forgotten me, then I am reassured that it will all make sense one day when I behold Him in His glory.
My prayer is that you are encouraged, that you consider all things in your life to be counted as joy, knowing that God is seeking His glory in every aspect of your life. Although He is higher than your deepest thoughts of Him, He is still always acquainted with every aspect of your heart, mind, and soul.