In Student Ministry, the flagship event of ever summer, for me anyway, was always camp. I started planning next year’s camp the day after camp was over. I love camp. I grew up going to Falls Creek – deep in the heart of the Arbuckle mountains of OK. I went to camp there at least once every summer between 1980 and 2003, sometimes I went several weeks. I surrendered to ministry there in 1982. To say that it is a very special place to me is an understatement.
One year at camp, on Wednesday night, Cheryl decided to take Trinity with us to the worship service. She was about 2 years old at the time. There were not enough seats for all of us in the Tabernacle, and it was really hot, so we decided to sit on the brick wall right outside the back. There was a nice breeze blowing, and we could hear everything going on inside.
About half way through the service, Trinity found a pothole about 10 feet in front of us. It was full of rocks and dirt, and she would grab a handful and run back and put it in my hands. She must have made 20 trips back and forth to fill my cupped hands with dirt and rocks.
It was invitation time for everyone in the tabernacle, and I was listening to what the speaker was saying. He said, “I want you to close your eyes. Think of those things in your life that keep you from living abundantly. Think of those things in your life that keep you from fulfilling God’s purpose for you. Now, cup your hands, and hold those things out in front of you. Give them to God. Let him take them from you so that you can live life the way it was meant to be lived.”
I looked down at my hands. They were full of dirt and busted up pieces of asphalt. Now, I am not a big believer in coincidence. I am also not a big believer in every little thing having a some big meaning. But I had to consider that maybe God was trying to show me something.
Yesterday I mentioned here that often what happens in life is the Thief comes and steals something from us and I believe that what specifically he takes is our present joy in life. He does this by keeping us in the past. He reminds us of past sin, regrets, shame. The result is that we end up living in guilt rather than living in grace.
When I looked down at the dirt and debris in my hands, I realized that my past was still a big part of who I am. And that a person’s past can hold them back. Your past can keep you from being free, but God can redeem your past, no matter what is there.
You know why they call it the past? Because I has already passed. It’s gone. There is nothing you can do to go back and change what you have done or haven’t done. The memories will never go away, and the feelings that come with them are sometimes just as strong as they were when it actually happened. Your past can destroy your present.
Nothing is unforgivable. But to have that kind of relationship with God, you have to let go of your life and the things that hold you back. You have to let go of your past. If you don’t, you will be living in the shadow of wrath, and not in the Light of a great and loving Father.
As for me, I have discovered what it means to live in the Presence of Greatness. It is to open up your hands and let go of the junk that you cannot possibly deal with. It is to be in the presence of a Father that loves you so much that you cannot possibly disappoint him.
So, I turned my hands over, let the dirt and rocks fall to the ground. Cheryl gave me a baby wipe. And the service was over. It’s in the past now, along with a thousand other memories. And now it is my choice, and your choice, to come before God and leave those things behind, and receive the abundance he offers those with the boldness to approach him.
What are you holding on to? What is the Holy Spirit asking you to give up? You can give it to Him and accept the abundant life being offered to you right now! That’s what the Resurrection is all about! The only other choice is living a defeated, crippled life. The only other choice is living for the past. That is not the kind of life that Christ died and lives to give you. Let it go! Give it to Him, and live!