Day Three: Hallways
I turned the corner and my husband was standing in the hallway talking to someone. I could not see their face, but as I came closer I recognized him. He was someone from high school, a former boyfriend. I stopped in my tracks and held my breath. It was only for a moment, but it felt like time stood still. The relationship had not ended on the best of terms, but that wasn’t what bothered me. It was what he represented; my old life.
I suspect lots of people experience moments when they are confronted with their former life. It is not only a phenomenon for persons of faith. Many of us have wanted to start over. Many of us find a way to do it. My opportunity came when I met God for the first time. It seemed I never knew God and then one day I had a new way of seeing the world. It was so much more hopeful and compelling that I left most of my former life behind.
But, standing there in the hallway, I realized that perhaps I was hiding from my old life. As people of faith, we often applaud someone when they turn from an unhealthy life toward a way of faith. Yet, I had been hiding from it instead of recognizing that it had shaped me. My past may be behind me and it may be forgiven, but it made me who I am. In hiding, I deny the goodness along with the guilt and shame.
It took me years to figure this out. And, if I am being transparent, I am still learning how God is redeeming it all. I believe we confuse God’s forgiveness with a divine eraser. Instead, He wants to redeem it, reclaim it for holy purposes. After I planted my church, there were many times when God used my past to make a connection or extend empathy. I earned credibility because I could relate to their pain and brokenness.
God wants to redeem it all. My past. Your past. Even if you have lived a rather godly life, I am certain you know what pain and brokenness feel like. God wants to redeem those as well. During the Lenten season, let’s think of these forty days as a hallway. We are not where we want to go, but we are not who we used to be. The hallway is a place of redemption. It is a place for God to reclaim and repurpose the past for His good and holy purposes.