A few years ago I was feeling condemned about some specific sin in my past. I never could feel like I was completely forgiven for some things that I had done. It didn't help that some people would bring up things that I had done and make me feel once again like a complete failure.One day I finally just broke down crying talking to the Lord about how I wanted to be redeemed, I wanted to be forgiven, I was truly repenting of the things I had done and God spoke to me, "It's not Me that hasn't forgiven you, it is not Me who leaves you feeling unredeemed, you and those around you are what's keeping you from feeling forgiven and redeemed".
The redemption power of our Father God truly amazes me. It's hard to grasp how God can take my sins, my wrongs, my screw ups, forget them, cast them as far as the east is to the west, and not only forgive me, but turn the situation around for my good and His glory. Sometimes I sit back and I'm just in awe. Situations that seemed unredeemable, things that seemed impossible, and yet in the most unlikely way He brings me through and fixes it.
Two stories come to mind to share with you. My Pastor's wife told me the story of a pastor who was speaking with a prophet, wanting to know if the prophet really heard from God, he said, go ask God about the one sin I can't seem to forgive myself for. The prophet came back and told the pastor, He said He doesn't remember it.
The next I heard in a sermon from the pastor over my bible college. He told the story of a pastor that had fallen into sin and had destroyed his family and caused him to resign from his church. Although he'd messed up greatly he still had a huge desire to serve God, so he went to volunteer on the mission field. One day as he was entering a small local church on the foreign mission field he was being introduced to the pastor, as the pastor of the church shook his hand he began to fervently pray for him. The man said he began to feel a burning and as if all of the pain, hurt, condemnation, from his sin was just being washed away. As he asked the translator, why is the pastor praying for me this way, the pastor of the church said that 20 years ago God gave him a dream. In that dream he saw a picture of the man's face and God told him, "one day you will be apart of this man's healing and restoration". The pastor said today must be that day and you are that man. Now the crazy part of the story is that 20 years before when God spoke to that pastor, this man wasn't even saved yet, he obviously wasn't in the ministry yet, and he hadn't made the mistakes he made yet... What's the point? God is a redeemer. Long before the man even knew he'd be a Christian much less in ministry, or make the mistakes he made, God had someone preparing to help him. Long before you messed up God was putting a plan into action to bring restoration to your heart, to your circumstances, to your family, to your friends.
God truly forgives our sins when we ask Him. He lets it go immediately. It's not like we often times do, yea I forgive you, but give me a few days to get over it, I'll need some space. No, God is the perfect example of love as described in 1 Cor. 13. He is love. He takes no account of suffered wrongs. He is willing and ready to not only forgive, but to restore and redeem, He believes the best about you. He doesn't just forgive you, but He's already been working on a plan in advance to bring restoration to your situation.
Just as God told me if I don't "feel" forgiven or redeemed it is not because He hasn't forgiven me, it's not because He hasn't redeemed me, it is because we haven't forgiven ourselves or we can't view ourselves as redeemed. Perhaps it's because those around us haven't forgiven us or redeemed us. I'm so thankful that I serve a God who forgives and redeems me. A God who brings restoration. Your past is your past to Him, as soon as you repent, you are forgiven. He views you as clean, whole, redeemed, restored...
Be Blessed, J. Tate