Today’s Truth

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend

When some of us think of the past, we remember the good old days when everything was better, simpler, cheaper and easier. Some people would like to erase their past while others long to revisit it.

If we want victory today and hope for tomorrow, we must learn how to deal with our past, because it is unchangeable. While we cannot go back and change our past, we can change our response to our past.

When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, she was very much like me in many ways, particularly in her approach to morning. We both hated it! I was always coming up with some way to lure her out of bed each morning. One of my staple temptations was Peanut Butter Captain Crunch Cereal. It was her favorite.

One morning, Danna was moving very slowly, and my patience was quickly growing thin. In my most cheerful voice, I called, “Danna, it’s time to eat.” I poured the cereal into her favorite bowl and was adding the milk when I heard her call from her bedroom, “Mom, don’t pour the milk yet.” Too late! Maybe she wouldn’t notice.

A minute later, Danna bounced into the kitchen, a smile on her face. She took one look at the cereal, turned around, and announced, “I cannot eat that!” With as much calm as I could muster, I asked, “What is wrong with this cereal?” Danna slowly turned and said, “Mama, when you pour the milk too early, Captain Cwunch gets soggy. And you can’t get the cwunch back!”

The past is much the same. We cannot change it – no matter how hard we try to bury, ignore or wish it away. We are left with a choice to make. We can either allow the past to defeat us, or we can learn how to harness it and use it for good in our lives today. How? For the answer to that question, let’s take a look at one of my favorite people in the Bible – David.

David was a man with quite a past. He was a shepherd boy, a giant killer, a general and a king. He was also a singer, a poet and author, a husband and father, and a very religious man. David was special to God.

At first glance, David doesn’t sound like a man who could be guilty of adultery, murder, hypocrisy, or lust … and the ugly list goes on. A man who is special to God would more likely be described as proper, cautious, discreet and very godly.

David first spotted Bathsheba while she was taking a bath on the roof of her home. David forgot who he was and whose she was … and slept with Bathsheba. He then sent her husband to the front lines where David knew he would be killed. David moved in with Bathsheba. They had kids and pretended that everything was wonderful. Inside, David was dying.

David lost weight, groaned in pain and was always exhausted (Psalm 32). Then God told on him. Everyone found out what David had done, and his life fell apart. David finally cried out to God in total repentance, “Lord, I have sinned.” David then confessed his sin to everyone involved and turned away from that sin.

God forgave him, his health returned, and David was given back his throne. While David lost some things forever, restoration came to his life, and after all of this, God says David “is a man after my own heart.”

Frankly, the first time I read the story of David I was amazed. After all David had done, how could he find favor with God?

God is drawn to broken people. God always works best through broken people. He entrusts His deepest truths to the most wounded and desperate people as those truths fall through the broken places, finding a place to rest and grow.The desire of God’s heart is never condemnation. It is always restoration. David learned how to forget what was behind and live toward what was ahead. If David can get past his past, so can we.

Let’s Pray

Father, I now surrender my past to You. Please heal the broken places and bring restoration to my life. I lay down the sin I have cherished for so long and accept Your forgiveness.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Now It’s Your Turn

Ask God to show you anything in your past that has become a foothold of darkness in your life today. Face it. Deal with it, and let it go.

More from the Girlfriends

Need help dealing with your past? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, How to Get Past Your Past.

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© 2021 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.

6 Responses to “Embracing the Power of Our Past”

  1. Bernadette says:

    I have struggled to be free of my past. I had so many regrets. Your devotional today is for me. This is my devotional for the rest of the week.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Deborah says:

    I too have struggled with my past. I was a big girl in HS. 230lbs of me. I never was asked to prom. I would just get laughed at. I often blamed God. I was suicidal, but God was strengthening me to be ready to be diagnosed with MS at 24 and a wheelchair at 26. He gave me the tools and now I got I am 160lbs and doing great

  3. Carol says:

    Dear Mary,
    Thank you!
    I know, we all probably can’t understand why God would forgive us?
    Your posting,gave me the “light” bulb” moment: If God, could forgive David, even with all the mess of his life, and consider him ” a man after my own heart”….why WOULDN’T He forgive me?
    My take is, we are HIS creation. All He wants is our love in return!
    We have to give that dirty, “back-pack of sins” to Jesus to be able to fully love our heavenly, Father!
    I had some sad struggles with my earthly Dad (since past), so this devotional is a healing for me, with the reminder of Father’s Day this weekend.
    Thanks so much!

  4. Earline says:


    I have been wrestling with how to make people turn around and approach today’s situation better.
    When I read your message today. it hit home. I thought of using many of your lines in an editorial for our local paper. However, thought I should ask before submitting to our paper. Do you want to see the article? Let me know. If this is not something I can do then I will rewrite the piece. I want to stay positive and uplifting like you did in your message. Please let me know.
    Thank you.

  5. Bernadette says:

    Funny how another sister in the Lord named Bernadette summed up my thoughts too. I would only add that some of my past mistakes have “leftover” disabling thoughts. I’m asking God for victory over those thoughts more than anything else, just for today and the rest of what will be a God-ordained life. Thanks Mary.

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8