God not only redeems our lives from sin and death, He also redeems our history. He does this by bringing our past brokenness into the light and reveals truth where we have believed lies.
The “Great I Am” has come to free us from all of our “I am not’s!”
Here’s the way Paul said it:
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph.5:13-14 NIV)
What Paul is saying is that when we allow Christ to shine His light into those dark places in our hearts, we are changed forever. Whatever kept us stuck in the past is brought into our present. This is how Jesus brings freedom and peace to our souls.
While I’ve seen this happen so many times in ministry over the years, this point was made very clear in a book I’m reading by Dr. Henry Cloud, “Changes That Heal: Four Practical Steps to a Healthier Happier You.” Here’s what Dr. Cloud said about this:
“God can use our current relationships to provide the nurturing we didn’t receive as children, the mentoring we missed as school-age kids, or the companionship we needed as teenagers.” (P.49)
“Because time is experience, we can influence any “past” aspect of ourselves in the present.”
“Often this child has not been reached by God’s grace and truth because he or she is outside of time. He or she is not brought into experience and is not allowed to grow up.”
“When God says that he can redeem the time, he can actually make our past different.”
“We can all work through the trust issues of infancy, the boundary-setting issues of toddlerhood, the forgiveness issues of young childhood, the role issues of later childhood, and the separation issues of adolescence in our present adulthood. We can all grow up again.”
“These aspects of the “image of God,” our personalities, are still there in their pristine form if because of injury they have been separated from time.”
“When they all come together, we can for the first time have the true self loved and accepted, and through practice and experience, grow in the image of God.” (P.50)
What Dr. Cloud is saying is that when we’re wounded or traumatized from our past, or we weren’t nurtured in an aspect of our lives, we’re often stuck there as an adult. And unless Jesus frees us, this wound will continually sabotage our relationships, how we trust, and how we see ourselves.
I shared in my post, “Whom the Son Sets Free” how Jesus reached into the pain and sadness of a young woman who had been raped when she was 12 years old. In this area of her life, this very damaged and precious young woman was stuck in that trauma. And I got to witness, firsthand, what happens when Jesus reaches into her deepest pain and heals an innocent little girl, who didn’t deserve any of this to happen to her. To see her fully embraced and set free was stunning and humbling to behold.
This is Jesus who comes to all of us with the intent to restore us back to our authentic selves.
And He can do this because He is full of grace and truth:
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NKJV*)
Jesus doesn’t come to us to condemn us with our failings. He unconditionally accepts and loves us as we are. But He’s also full of truth and has come to free us from the lies we believe about ourselves. This is important for us to understand if we’re going to receive everything Jesus has for us.
For we won’t come to Jesus without this total acceptance (grace), and we won’t get free until we know the truth about what binds us. Grace accepts us and embraces us as we are, and the truth frees us from the counterfeit identity we’ve adopted from our life circumstances.
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36 NKJV*)
This young woman was freed from the lies she believed about herself all those years, and it totally transformed her in a moment, bringing the wounded 12-year old girl into her present life. Jesus’ grace invited her into the encounter, the truth freed her from her past.
Her history was literally rewritten in her soul. She’s no longer that wounded little girl.
Jesus did the same thing with Peter who boasted that he would never deny Him, yet failed Him three times. So, after Jesus’ resurrection we see Peter at the seashore in John 21, still stuck in his past failure, going fishing (which is indicative of his situation). It’s at this familiar juncture that Peter encounters Jesus (again).
Jesus takes Peter and brings his deep shame and his identification with failure into the present and releases Him into His calling. We see a very different Peter after this incident. This is how God redeems our history.