The meandering path lined with tall, sharp, sea grass beckons to be followed.
Walking down the path a cool sea breeze envelopes my being and soothes my stressed body.
Pointing my nose into the breeze I inhale deeply the salty, fresh, air that holds memories of childhood, picnics, vacations, and playing in surf.
My feet touch the grainy, warm, soft sand and sink deep into its gentle massage. My toes wiggle in the sand content and happy to be out of my shoes.
Sitting with my back against an old gnarled log I wiggle until the sand is perfectly molded to me.
Closing my eyes I listen to the rhythm of the waves, my breathing becomes deep and slow in imitation.
God is here, I see him,
As vast as the sea is God.
As loud as the roar of the waves are my troubled thoughts.
As soothing as the dry warm sand wrapped around my feet is his spirit.
As tangled as the seaweed wrapped around the drift wood are my feelings.
As gentle or as mighty as the sea breeze, God is more.
By Debora Shelford Hobbs
Outrunning the Past
“Am I ever going to outrun my past?” he asked with frustration, “I’m a completely different person than I was… but just when I think the past is finally dead, I run into someone that knew me at my worst and they say something like” “I can’t believe you’re still alive!” “Sometimes when I’m in a group an old story comes up that puts my past on public display and I nearly drown in a wave of humiliation. I want to look forward, not backward! I am sick of it…I don’t want to be reminded of my past anymore. I don’t want friends and acquaintances from my current life to even know about my past…it makes me feel like such an idiot! It’s been years since I was like that…why won’t people just leave it alone? I just want to deny that my past was really a part of my life!”
I sat there wondering if he was actually asking for input or if the question was just rhetorical. His eyes shifted to me mid-sentence and I could see I was expected to say something. My mind raced to find a truthful but gentle reply and then I remembered to ask God for wisdom and for words that would glorify Him in that difficult moment. I said, “We all have regrets and our mistakes are part of who we are. They are undeniable; we cannot outrun them. God knows everything we’ve ever done and He wants us to humbly submit our lives and allow Him to use our past… with all its pain. Do you really think you’re the only one that has made mistakes like yours? On the contrary, there are millions of people that have made the same mistakes and they need to know that there is redemption and hope for them too. If you silence your story how will they know?”
Continuing on I said, “You’re right to look forward and to continue changing but none of us should completely forget our past. Remembering where we came from reminds us to be thankful for God’s forgiveness and mercy. It is His plan to use our mistakes for good…like taking beauty from ashes. Just think of it, God loved you in spite of sin and rebellion and He reached out to you in the midst of sin, not after you appeared sinless. I know it takes humility, because I too have regrets and shame from my past. But…the past is part of us and has helped form our character, so why not be open about it and allow God to use it to touch others that are following our same troubled path. We should be thoughtful about where and when to share our story just like Jesus was careful with whom he shared. But we must share our story when the opportunity presents itself. When you run into someone from the past and they ask how it is that you are still alive, seize that opportunity to share what God has done in your life. What a way to make right the wrongs of the past.”
As I walked away, I thought to myself “Am I allowing God to use the mistakes of my past to touch others? Am I sharing how God has changed me and clothed me in love with young women that are struggling in the same way I did?” I suddenly realized that the answer God gave me when talking with my friend was for me too. And I understood that I too need to seize opportunities to share the grace that God has placed over my life in spite of the sin and rebellion of my past.
By Rhonda Shelford Jansen