Haunted by the Past
This past year we were involved in a Bible study at the nearby Air Force Base. A member of our study, “John,” shared a story that spoke to our hearts.
John grew up not being the best at anything. His grades were average, his SATs were nothing special, and he frequently got in trouble.
His parents suffered illnesses and the stress led to divorce. During his high school senior year he ended up living with a friend’s family. He cut the grass for them, but as his friends went off to college, he felt the awkwardness of knowing he didn’t belong. So he joined the Army, perhaps with the encouragement of the local judge.
As he took this step, he asked Jesus for one more chance to do things right–this time with a heart and life submitted to Christ.
John made it through basic training at the top of his class. He went to advanced training schools to learn additional skills and he consistently ranked at the top of his class. The Army noticed and gave him the opportunity to attend the Military Academy Prep School where he excelled and graduated–at the top of his class. He earned an appointment to West Point where he continued to do very well.
But always in the back of his mind, he was haunted by the fear that someone was going to find out that he didn’t belong. He wasn’t an honor student, a star athlete, or class president. He chose to fly low by not buying t-shirts, jackets or caps that proclaimed “West Point.” He was continuously waiting for that call to the Office of the Commandant where he would be told that the powers- that-be had finally found out about him and he was to leave immediately. So, in spite of his much-changed life, his first two years as a cadet were haunted by fear.
It was during in his junior year, when he realized he had been telling himself a lie. The source of that lie wasn’t the Holy Spirit, but the enemy of our souls. He finally understood at the deepest levels that he had been fully accepted by Christ. From that point on, he walked forward in faith.
Today, John is a Lt. Colonel in the Army, a West Point graduate, with a highly successful military career. He is also the husband of a godly woman, and a loving father of a beautiful family. Best of all, he knows that person he is cannot be threatened by the person he used to be.
I listened to John’s story, startled because I could only see the man he is now. I’m always surprised to find out that others have fears and failures, painful pasts, and overwhelming obstacles. And encouraged to learn how they have overcome the past and moved forward with Christ.
In many ways we all share John’s story and we need to remember that we were all saved by the God of the second chance, the God who took our past to the cross with Him. We don’t have to claim that other person any longer. We are not who we were or who we might have been, but we are what Jesus has called us to be–redeemed for His glory!
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20