Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity.
~Elder Neil L. Andersen
Letting Go of the Past
Today I was thinking back to my days in High school and how empty I felt in those days. I thought it was because I never truly fit in. I tried and I pretended to like the same things my friends did, and some things I did, but there was always this emptiness in me. If you ask doctors about this they would tell you I was depressed and I needed medication, which I went on and off for years in high school and in college.
College presented the same issues for me only most of the time I was alone as I isolated myself from others so I didn’t have to try so hard. See in the past, I felt like I had to fill up my time with things, or people, or stuff…but now I know that the hole that most of us (me included) feel is the longing to be with Christ. We feel that the world judges us and see all of our mistakes. In fact, social media is obsessed with covering all of this up! But the truth is we are all running from our past selves. Instead of running, we should be surrendering to our pasts. They have shaped and made us the people we are today! Our mistakes and sins are forgiven and therefore should not be a source of constant burden that many of us continue to dwell on, even after we may have given them Christ.
Many of us feel sad and isolated because of past choices. Jesus says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18-19 NIV). We are going to be judged by others it is an unfortunate part of the world we currently live in but Jesus gives us hope that we are not made to sit in this judgment for eternity because we don’t belong to the world.
Overcoming the World
If you were not born in the faith or did not accept Jesus into much later in your life or even if you accepted Jesus from a young age but then walked away, only to come back into his fold, you can still overcome the world! It is not too late to start filling that emptiness and that void that you may feel. Even for me, there are times when I feel like I am holding myself together because I might physically just fall apart. These are the times I need Jesus the most. To be honest these are also the times that I forget that I need Jesus the most! This is crazy because I know that the void is caused by not seeking Him and I still feel empty and isolated and helpless! If I prayed through these times, and I have, that hole becomes smaller and smaller.
Really to overcome the world we have to overcome ourselves. We have to really bare into what holds us back and what keeps us from seeking Jesus. Many people would say fear holds them back. Which is true, but I would challenge you to dig deeper in what specifically you are fearful of? Right now, getting sick or a loved one getting sick is a huge fear! Maybe you are afraid to repeat past mistakes. Maybe you are afraid that you won’t be a good parent because your didn’t have a good model. Maybe you are afraid of loosing your job or working in a job that you need but don’t love! Any number of things can hold you back and keep you from overcoming the world!
What Can You Do?
First I want you to go back to the scripture: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33, NIV). Jesus tells us that we will have troubles. In John 15 he told us that as believers the world will actually hate us. I don’t know about you but that gives me some anxiety! To get through this, I want you to know, understand and then accept that you will have voids, mistakes and upsets in you life. Once we accept these things, we can be more prepared for them.
Next, I want you to give all things past, present and future to Him. First think about anything in your past that maybe causing you shame or that you have guilt over. You can write these on a sticky note or an index card. While praying, physically lift this card up the sky in an act of giving it up to God. Ask for forgiveness of these things and ask that God protect you from the devil putting them back into you heart. This is done. I want you to be firm and tell God that you will not let the past hold a sway over your life. Your choices, your guilt, whatever you wrote down will no longer be a source of pain in your life. You can even clap or stamp after you have done this.
Now it is time to look at you present. What is bothering today? Maybe your health isn’t what it should be. Perhaps, your are having problems with a child or even an aging parent. Maybe your job is not what you want. Whatever is it, and it can be a lot of things, write those down on a different piece of paper or index card. Repeat the same process as before with giving it to God, asking for forgiveness for worrying on it, renouncing the devil’s hold over it and finally stamp or clap.
The last part of this exercise is giving you future to God. Now this might seem a little silly to some because we don’t know what our future brings, but God does! God knows your future, He also knows that you are going to mess up even after giving all your fears and failures over to Him because we are human and that is what we do! But we need to acknowledge that it is ok for us to mess up and to be messy and to not know what our future holds. So I just want you to write on a new paper/card MY FURTURE. Then while lifting this up to God I want you to pray: “Lord, I give you my future. I know that you have a plan for me and I accept that plan. I ask that you forgive my future sins and help me to learn and grow from them. I thank you that you are a good and wonderful God who will never fail me and who is always with me. I ask that your wisdom guide me and that your strength be with me always from this day forward. Amen!”
This is a great exercise to repeat especially if you feel weighed down by the past or you feel like you have made yet another mistake that needs forgiveness. We can never ask for too much forgiveness and it is never beyond our reach no matter how many times we repeat our cycles.
Adulting is hard. Overcoming the world is hard. But we have the strength and love of our savior Jesus Christ and that is worth living our best life for!
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