the key to letting go of your past

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: , , | 12 Comments »

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” –Luke 9:62 ESV

For someone trying to let go of their past, this is a crushing scripture. It’s another thing on the pile of wrongs under which they are already suffocating. Jesus says that if we cannot let go of our past, we are not fit for His kingdom.

When you sin and are fully aware that you cannot do, pay, or apologize enough to make up for it, you feel condemned. Hopeless. To add this scripture to it, it seems to condemn you even further.

When your sin changes the way your life looks, changes who you are, it feels impossible to walk in grace. Every step you take has been molded by your sin. How can you let it go when every aspect of your life is a glaring reminder that nothing is or will ever be the same?

This is a very big concept to grasp, so I want you to really think about everything that I am about to show you. This is the moment-of-salvation under a microscope.

“…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” –Jesus; John 8:31 ESV

The reason you are not experiencing freedom is because you either have not heard or do not believe the simplicity of the truth. The truth is very simple, but it has a very sharp way of shocking our sensibilities. It can be offensive to the core of ‘self’, if it is ‘self’ that you intend to keep in tact. (For the sake of a case study, I’ll leave the comments open. If you want to see the desperate fight of ‘self’ play out, just watch the comments. They may show up there.)

Here we go….

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:11-14 ESV

I am going to be explicit even though I do not have the space in this blog to write a book. I know you will have a million questions and I might even be making you angry, but I will not back down from the Truth. Study the scriptures yourself. Think critically. Part of thinking critically is to examine the implications of what this blog is saying and determine what that means. Compare your determinations with scripture and let the thought process roll around in your brain for as long as it takes. I am about six years into this thought process and I am still processing.

With that said…

(Compare the following paragraph with the scripture above [Eph 1:11-14])

You have a pre-determined purpose that God gave you. He works out everything according to that purpose. Because of the nature of free-will and the mistakes we make with it, we have Jesus to make sure that our free-will never has the power to trump God’s will. When you believe the Truth, the Holy Spirit seals it within you. It is a guarantee, an absolute, and the sealed Truth within you is what you can chew on until the end when all of the missing puzzle pieces come together and answer the missing questions.

This leaves you completely dependant on Jesus and completely safe in the purpose of God. You do not have to fear, you do not have to worry. You do not have to stay down when you fall. You do not have to kick yourself for your failure or kick someone else out of panic or fear for their eternal future.

I will say, there are people who use the Truth as an excuse to sin and I am not talking about those people. The Truth sends you running in worship to the feet of your Creator. It does not equip you with the ability to live in the smoky side-streets of selfishness and decay. I can speak the Truth without dumbing it down for those who use it as a means for selfishness. That would be me letting the sin of others determine how I spin the Truth. That’s not something I will ever do. Besides, when God decides that their time with the pigs is finished, He’ll open their eyes and show them their filth and they’ll need a home to come running to. Wash the sheet in your guest rooms. Stock up on the Truth to wash their stench and make sure you have a warm robe to cover their shame. The Truth calls people home. Church, be ready to be that home.

I’m going to let you watch a conversation, based on the words I shared above, play out. I know this blog is long, but I’m on a roll….

The following is a conversation between a reader and me:

Reader: There are times in my life that SATAN gets in my head and tells me….”Your sins are too great!”

I get so caught up in MY SINS (past) reliving the shame, reliving the sorrow, reliving the anger, reliving the SIN…. and can’t seem to move forward.

Even with repentance, even with PRAYERS, and meditation and Bible study, my SINs haunts me………

and I feel insecure about EVERYTHING.

Satan is cunning and I know that HE is lurking there…. in my mind…. I know that in those DARK places….growth, real growth happens………. but I am growing tired of the battle.

I surrender……….ALL.

(You think that is what God is waiting on… TRUE surrender?)”

Me: I hear what you’re saying. I’ve been there…

For the purpose of leading you to a thought process, I have a question for you:

  • What have you learned from your failure?

Reader: What have I learned? That I stand in judgment of NO ONE…because I am as much a sinner as anyone else.

I learned that God’s love is the greatest HIGH ever. I felt it once so strong in me…surrounding me, that I felt “in HIS arms!” PURE LOVE! and I want that feeling every single day!

I learned that this life is full of stress, disappointments and at the end of the day, I know NOTHING! My hope rests in GOD taking over my life…

therefore, it all comes down to TRUST. Am I trusting enough the words that flow from my fingers……right here…right now… to KNOW that GOD HAS ALREADY GOT THIS! I just have to let go.

Me: What you have learned, through your failure, lines you up with scripture better than any Sunday school class could have. These scriptures have become a part of you. They are no longer something you try to do. See?…..

1) That I stand in judgment of NO ONE

  • Luke 6:37

2) I learned that God’s love is the greatest HIGH ever.

  • 1 John 4:8 & 16

3) I know NOTHING!

  • 1 Corinthians 13:9

4) My hope rests in GOD taking over my life…

  • Psalm 25:5 & Psalm 39:7

5) it all comes down to TRUST

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9


  • Job 42:2

7) I just have to let go.

  • Luke 9:62; Philippians 3:12-13

The key to understanding the magnitude of grace and the key to being able to let go of your past is to see that God is using your life experiences to mold you into who He created you to be. Your failures no longer have the power over you, they are used by God to teach you the things you need to know and equip you with the tools that you need for your God designed purpose. See your failure as a teaching tool, not as a flaw. Grace gives Life where there was supposed to be death. Grace gives failure a purpose. When you ask ‘why’, answer your own question with what you’ve learned.

The proof for what I am saying is in your own words/experience and it is backed by scripture:

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. -2 Corinthians 1:9

Remind yourself of this every time you try to look back over your shoulder to determine your future…..

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead… Philippians 3:12-13

Reader: Thank you for showing me HIS truth through the WORD. Your blog is a must read for me! Thank you for this ministry.


Don’t look back. It will only turn you into a ‘pillar of salt.’ Gather your lessons and move forward into the wide open spaces of freedom in grace.



12 Comments on “the key to letting go of your past”

  1. 1 Emily said at 7:41 am on March 3rd, 2011:

    Thank you for this, I needed to hear it today!!

  2. 2 Jason said at 10:29 am on March 3rd, 2011:

    I'm going to bookmark this and come back to it when I'm feeling myself start to sink into depression.

  3. 3 StephenT said at 11:02 am on March 3rd, 2011:

    I do have one comment about the conversation you shared, and I'm hopeful that it's an encouraging addition to what you are trying to say. Since yesterday I've thought about the last line in the reader's opening of the conversation:

    "(You think that is what God is waiting on… TRUE surrender?)"

    I did not detect in this person's heart a works mentality, but I do think there is a temptation in the heart of each one of us to get some things backwards. I ask the following rhetorically, not in contradiction to Serena's sharing in any way…. What if "the truth" has very little to do with what we can "give", even surrender? What if it has everything to do with what He makes it possible for us to receive?

    If I was struggling with some things and I asked in my church bible study whether they thought God was waiting for my true surrender, my brothers and sisters in Christ would probably have the story of the rich young ruler dancing around in their heads (Mat. 19:16-22). "You've got to give up everything and take up your cross to enter the kingdom of God."

    But what if that's not what that passage is trying to say? What if Jesus is simply loving this person and trying to guide him toward eternal life, and it has nothing to do with giving, but only receiving? Jesus was inviting him to simply divest himself of that which had the grip of death on him, and assuring him that in that very process on unclenching his fists he would lack nothing! ("sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven"). This is not a plea for performance. Grace is not transactional, it's participatory. This is an invitation for him to let go of what is keeping him from freedom, while trying to let him know that AS SOON as the letting go takes place, treasure from heaven would flood into its place. The very next phrase is not our new call to duty, it is an invitation to receive … "and COME."

    That is why Jesus then teaches that the first will be last … because the first try to "give" … they have a vested interest rather than a divested interest in performance and "fairness". Those born-of-adam disciples of his heard this interchange and immediately said, "hey we're surrendering, we're giving up everything … what do we get?" Jesus is so kind (so kind!) when explains what awaits them, even though He makes sure to call what they will receiving an "inheritance" (even in our earthly life, what is you "DO" exactly to receiving an inheritance? … besides being "born" into a family.)

    It all starts with the coming to Him and receiving. "Come unto me you who are weary and heavy laden." He only wants us to come. He's got everything taken care of, for our freedom no less. And even the coming is a mystery of His love for us. What if, in ways we don't realize, selling all and giving to the poor is a piece of cake for a son of Adam compared to coming? What if NO ONE comes to Him unless the Father draws him? Oh that cross! Oh that cross!!! What a game changer that we might even come! And with that very first "receiving" within our heart, with that very first coming to our senses while we are feeding those pigs. We turn and we take a step … "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

  4. 4 Serena Woods said at 12:02 pm on March 3rd, 2011:

    StephenT: You have a beautifully poetic writing style. It's like sipping rich black tea from an eccentric little cup. It doesn't even matter if I like black tea, I like the cup.

  5. 5 Glory said at 1:19 pm on March 3rd, 2011:

    Hello Serena,

    I am using my personal blogsite because the nature of my comment is more in line with the spiritual journey I am taking there.

    What grabbed my shoulders and swung me around about "letting go" is the message of what Jesus has done for me and how simple it sounds to receive forgiveness and "sin no more." I have such a struggle with knee-jerk religion that I strain to believe that I don't have to do anything to go free. It seems ridiculously unfair that my transgressions no longer need to be accounted for. I don't have to include them on my credentials as a believer. I can even make new friends and share my experience when God opens the door of opportunity to do so.

    My experience with sin and forgiveness has shown me how to appreciate even the smallest and less recognized blessings. Allowing myself to smile about something beautiful or touching was important. Giving hugs or encouragement to others took a little longer because of the healing and strength I needed myself. But laughter surprised me and felt inappropriate for the longest time. I don't know when I was finally liberated from my self-imposed restrictions but I feel priviledged to enjoy the life that Jesus has graciously given to me as much as I do.

    Thank you for your insight and godly wisdom, Serena, and for sharing your life and Jesus' love with your readers.

    Love and blessings!


  6. 6 Eileen said at 2:08 pm on March 3rd, 2011:

    "See your failure as a teaching tool, not as a flaw." AMEN! It's amazing to finally get to that point in your life when you don't look at failure as regret but as a launching board to share with others how powerful Christ's love is and how capable He is of taking our mistakes and using them for something beautiful!

  7. 7 Tammy@meadows speak said at 1:59 am on March 4th, 2011:

    I wanted to add to what StephenT said (which was great)…I read this very scripture last week and something I hadn't seen before (about the rich ruler). I believe the ruler missed the point entirely and Jesus was trying to show Him the heart of the issue "Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor…'” If you want to be perfect. Perfect. Perfect? Who asked anything about being perfect? And the ruler left with his possessions and without Jesus and without "perfect"ion. It is the heart issue of trying to be perfect (or good, or better) which makes us hold onto things which turn us away from Him.

  8. 8 Robyn said at 3:40 am on March 4th, 2011:

    Senena and friends,

    "Your failures no longer have the power over you, they are used by God to teach you the things you need to know and equip you with the tools that you need for your God designed purpose."

    I truly believe this statement! I grew up in a Pastor's home. I learned all about "the Bible" and I was taught "right and wrong" but the lesson I had to learn through my own life journey, is that I can't fake it til I make it. I have to "live it!"

    God carried me through times of horrible pain, dissapointment, confusion, and despair…. when no one else could even come close to "comfort" CHRIST alone engulfed me with the love I so desperately needed.

    From Steven's comment: "

    “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)"

    I am loving my journey….even if my post my not reflect it…. because I am, for once in my life, FULLY AWAKE. Eyes wide open….

    I believe my journey is less about "me" and more about "HIM"…truly knowing HIM, not as executioner….waiting in the wing for me to fail, but as a loving Father….waiting for me to fully and completely, TRUST him.

    I've been hurt by many men in my life, from abuse and betrayal, so Trust has been an issue I have struggled with…unknowingly…. for years.

    Grace brought me to where I am today… learning to truly TRUST the only ONE matters.

    This is my special scripture…(I even wear it engraved on a charm around my neck, everyday)

    Proverbs 31:25 "For she is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs with no fear of the future."

    This is my daily reminder of the power within me through Christ.

    Thank you for your words, sharing your journey, and touching my life through this blog when I needed a place to fall flat on my face and know…. Grace is for Sinners!

  9. 9 Anonymous said at 2:52 pm on January 1st, 2012:

    Thank you for this encouraging discussion. It helped me when I had hit rock bottom. God is so good! I believe He led me to this page.

  10. 10 jacob dwoka said at 10:29 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    Am letting go of my past,coz greatness awaits me.

  11. 11 Liliane said at 1:40 pm on January 16th, 2015:

    thank you so much for this blog.GOD bless you.

  12. 12 Tom said at 8:45 am on January 14th, 2018:

    I know this is an old post but I am so grateful you have kept it up all these years. This was exactly what I needed when I needed it. Thank you.

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