My daughter is nearly four, and she’s inherited my tendency to become overwhelmed by having too much to do at once. This shines through the most when she’s tasked with picking up her toys at the end of the day. I find myself telling her often, “Lucy, you’re only able hold one thing at a time.” This calms her down and she’s able to finish picking up her toys.
We’re much like that, aren’t we? Holding onto so much that our spirits are overwhelmed. It says when Jesus called the disciples, they “dropped everything and followed Him.” You cannot cling to Christ when your hands are full. Most of the time the things we are holding onto are our sins, our failures, our shortcomings, our pain. There’s an earthly misconception that I’ve heard quoted on so many films and in so many books, that our pain and our scars make us who we are. Don’t buy into this, dear brothers and sisters. Your pain and scars and sins do not make you who you are. God created you to be who you are. (Psalm 139). Never give sin and shame and fear and scars that much authority over you. When Jesus forgives our sins, He remembers them no more and He expects the same of us. If you do recall them, may it be only to recall the beautiful grace and mercy and love of the Father through Christ Jesus. If you’re holding onto these things, you won’t experience the fullness of freedom that is offered to us in forgiveness. C.S Lewis once wrote, “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him” (from a letter to Miss Breckenridge, April 19, 1951).
Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:13-17 upon remembering His sins, “I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He judged me faithful and appointed me to His service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)
Paul humbly recalled his sins to display the glory of Christ Jesus. It was Jesus who was glorified through this recollection and Jesus who Paul was holding onto. Paul knew as we do that when Jesus left the tomb, nothing else left with Him. The sin and the fear and the pain that comes with this world stayed in the grave. It stayed defeated. We remained victorious through His great sacrifice. I want to encourage you today, dear friends, to drop everything and follow Him, cling to Him. You can only hold onto one thing at a time and the choice is yours. The freedom and the victory over these things have been yours since Resurrection Day, and they’ll be yours forever.