What do you think of when you think of your past? Do you have fond memories or do you cringe when you think about the events? Either way, God wants to bring revival and abundant life out of, or maybe even in spite of, our past.
This might sound crazy or illogical yet, I have seen and even experienced revival of my past. God has taken me back a few times to re-visit events or choices in my past to finally overcome them, and in reality, to finally overcome myself. I would struggle or trip over my past failures and mistakes time and again. I would beat myself up with words and thoughts of how I could have done things differently. My regrets were huge and I didn’t see anyway of escaping them. Often the shame of my bad choices would consume me and overtake me in such a way of paralyzing me spiritually and ministerially.
I remember a time in my life where God was showing me areas of my past that He wanted to breath life into. Areas I thought were dead and forever unchangeable somehow God has resurrected His beauty and breathed His very life into. God wants to do this in your life too.
Sometimes God has us go back to go forward.
I have been pondering this idea for some time now. I believe God sometimes has us go back to an issue or event in our life and deal with it so we can move on in Him. He wants to bring healing in that area.
I remember a bike ride I took on my mountain bike. I hadn’t ridden my bike for a long time, and wanted to do some physical fitness. I took a route that my husband takes all the time on his road bike. As I went on this ride I quickly realized I was out of shape. There were several big hills that I had to get up and after each one I had to stop and get off my bike and rest. After riding for a half hour I wanted to go home, but didn’t want to take the same route back as I knew I would have to go up more big hills and my body was so tired. I thought “There has to be a short cut across the river to my house.” I asked some bike riders if there was a trail that would take me down to the walking bridge to cross the river. One of them pointed to a trail and said, “We just came from that trail. It will take you to the bridge, but it is a hard trail.” I said, “Thanks!” and continued down the trail they showed me. When I started riding on the trail it was very bumpy and filled with boulders, stumps, and roots of trees. Bumping along I fell off the trail three times as it was steep. I kept saying to my self, “This is better than riding up those steep hills!” So I continued down the trail. Soon I came to a Y in the road. I didn’t know if I should go left or right. The left road went upwards away from the river a little, but I thought it would lead me to the walking bridge. The right road went down to the river and I thought it would be too close to the river and be at the water’s edge. So I chose the left road. The more I went on this road the more I realized it was taking me totally away from the river and leading me up the mountain instead. After riding on the road for about a mile I said to my self, “I’ll have to go back to go forward!” Instantly I knew God was speaking to me, but didn’t know exactly what that meant. Eventually I arrived back at the Y and took the road on the right instead. This path took me over even a harder path, but eventually it took me to the walking bridge. Even after I crossed the bridge, I had to ride my bike for about another forty-five minutes to get home. My ride was a total of three hours. Which I call that ride, “The ride from Hell!” Still, I pondered the thought, “I have to go back to go forward.” Lord, what does this mean? What area in my life do I have to go back and deal with to go forward?
God began to show me several areas in my life that I needed to confront and deal with so I could go forward with what God has called me to do. There are many examples in the Bible of people who had to go back to go forward. One big example in the Bible is Jacob (Genesis 27 – 33).
Major events in Jacob’s life
Jacob and Esau were twins, and while they were in their mother’s womb, they struggled together within her. She didn’t understand so she asked God and He said, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). Esau was born first and he came out red like a hairy garment all over. Esau means hairy. Then Jacob came out and took the heel of Esau. Jacob’s name means supplanter or Deceitful.One who takes the heel. Esau was a skillful hunter and Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob (Gen. 25:28a), and Rebekah loved Jacob (Gen. 25:28b).
Genesis 25:29 – 34 (NKJV)
“Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom (Red). But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
When the day came for Isaac to give his blessing to Esau (customary for the older to receive), he asked Esau to go out and hunt game and make a meal for him and then he was to bless Esau. Rebekah overheard Isaac speaking to Esau and told Jacob. Rebekah sent Jacob out to get the choice goats and made some food and gave it to Jacob to give to his father. He also put on Esau’s clothes and the skin’s of the kids of the goats. He tricked his father in giving Esau’s blessing to him. When Esau came in with the prepared food it was too late as Isaac already blessed Jacob. This made Esau very mad and he vowed that after his father’s passing he would go and kill Jacob. Finding this out, Rebekah sent Jacob away to Laban’s house. Jacob fled, he ran for fear of his life.
Arriving at Laban’s house, Jacob meets Rachel and falls in love with her. He has to work seven years for Laban to get her. Jacob fulfills his commitment and is tricked into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah. When Jacob finds this out he confronts Laban and Laban says to fulfill his week with Leah and then he would give Rachel to Jacob for another seven years of work. Jacob agrees and finishes the seven additional years and then works six more years for livestock. Jacob works a total of 20 years for Laban.
When it was time for Jacob to receive all that was promised to him he runs and takes his wives and children and livestock with him. Jacob had a way of running from his problems. He ran from the wrath of his brother, and now he runs from Laban. But we will never conquer what we don’t confront. Eventually we will have to confront our past to overcome it or it will overcome us. This is the case with Jacob. He flees and has a three day head start, but Laban eventually finds him and confronts him. Ultimately Laban was deceitful in his dealings with Jacob and Jacob fled with everything Laban loved and worked for. The two make a covenant to cause no harm to each other.
After leaving Laban, Jacob went on his way to his homeland. Jacob knew he was going to have to confront his brother Esau. He sent messengers to tell Esau that Jacob has been with Laban and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and was asking for Esau’s favor. The messengers reported back to Jacob that Esau had four hundred men and were coming his way. Jacob was afraid. He thought his brother was going to destroy all that Jacob worked for over the mistake he made in the past of robbing his brother of his birthright and father’s blessing.
Jacob divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels into two groups. He said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape” (Genesis 32:8).
Jacob cried out to God for help and protection and favor. He took what he had in his hand to offer to his brother for reconciliation.
Genesis 32:14 – 15, 21 (NKJV)
“Two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty mild camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals… So the present went on over before him, but he himself lodged that night in the camp.”
Jacob sent the gift to his brother and sent his wives and children over the brook and Jacob was left alone for the night.
Do You Limp?
Genesis 32:24 – 31 (NKJV)
“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name? He said, “Jacob.” And he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.”
Truthfully, I have a hard time trusting people who haven’t developed a “limp.” People who don’t “limp” are usually weak, and fearful over little things. They don’t know what it means to perservere. Why? Because they give up too quickly.
Limping people show they’ve pressed through a struggle for a blessing. Their limp shows up whereever they go. They walked through a fight or a struggle, even with God, to come out the other side victorious.
You can spot “limpers” everywhere you go. They are the ones who are tenacious in dealing with things that come up in their life. They are those who have faith and know who they are in Christ. They are those who know what it is like to lack and know what it is to receive. Those who have a spiritual limp have wrestled with God over things and come out stronger, better, and forever changed over it. They are people who say, “I am pressing, pushing through this in Jesus Name!” They don’t allow their circumstance to win, but cry out to God for help and a blessing!
Jacob made peace with his past
Right after that Esau came. Jacob bowed to Esau seven times. “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).
God granted favor with his brother in spite of Jacob’s deceitful past. This confrontation changed the stigma of Jacob’s past. Now, he and his brother reconciled as Esau received the gifts Jacob offered to him.
Genesis 33:11 (NKJV)
“Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. So he urged him, and he took it.”
Jacob’s Critical Confrontation:
1. God had Jacob go back to face his relationship with his brother Esau before he could move on.
2. He finished or completed what he had to do (Gen. 32:4 “I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now.”).
3. He had to face his fear of seeing his brother again (400 men with him – Gen. 32:6). Jacob was afraid of Esau but knew the confrontation had to take place.
4. He had to pray (Gen. 32:11).
5. He asked for favor from his brother (Jacob humbled himself).
6. It cost Jacob what was in his hand (Gen. 32:13 “…and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother…”)
The word “hand” or yawd (Hebrew for hand), which is a primitive word means; “a hand (the open one indicating power, means, direction, etc.).”
If you let go of what is in your hand, God will let go of what is in His hand and give it to you. What are you hanging onto? What is so important that you can’t let go of it? When you let go, God will multiply it beyond what you could ever think it could be.
Think of the boy with the loaves and two fishes. See how it was multiplied thousands and thousands of times over. If the boy wouldn’t have given what he had, then it never would have been multiplied to feed thousands.
Give what you have in your hand. Don’t hang onto it. It might look good to you and you want to keep it, but God cannot multiply it for His glory until you let go of it. It is not yours in the first place, God gave it to you.
There is a story of a little girl who saved up her money to buy a fake pearl necklace. When she had saved up the money she joyfully went and purchased her necklace. That night, when her Daddy was tucking her into bed, she showed it to him with pride and joy. He looked and smiled at the necklace and asked, “Baby, will you give me the necklace?” The little girl was surprised that her Daddy wanted her necklace. She sadly said, “No, Daddy, I love this necklace.” Her Daddy gave her a kiss and said, “Good night honey, I love you!” and left her to go to sleep. The next day she wore her necklace and showed all her friends. She was so proud of it and all the little girls wanted one just like hers. That night, when her Daddy tucked her into bed he asked, “Baby, will you give me your new necklace?” She was devastated. Why did he asked for it again? He could have asked for anything else and she would have gladly gave it to him. She had say no, and was very sad he asked. Her Daddy loved on her and gave her a kiss and left her to go to sleep. When she woke up, all she could think about was her Daddy and how he wanted her necklace. She loved her Daddy more then her new necklace so she decided that if her Daddy asked her that night for it, she would give it to him. Sure enough, that night her Daddy tucked her into bed and asked her for her necklace. Immediately she took it off and gave it to her Daddy. She said, “I love you more then my new necklace.” As soon as she gave it to him, he pulled out from his pocket a real pearl necklace that he had for her all along and gave it to her.
Often God asks for what is in our hand. It may be our “precious” that we care about so deeply. Maybe a job, or ministry, or anything that we cherish. When He asks us for our “precious” He always has something better in store for us if we just are willing to give what is in our hand.
God never asks us to give away anything He hasn’t already given us.
There was a cost for Jacob to go back in order to go forward. He wanted to give his brother a present. The gift went before Jacob preparing the way.
7. Esau ran and embraced Jacob. What Jacob feared turned into favor and forgiveness.
8. Once Jacob faced his relationship with his twin brother Esau, it was resolved and he never had to face that issue again.
Jacob was brave and decided to confront his past once and for all. The fruit of Jacob’s prayer, and all the preparation was the favor from his brother.
It is interesting that Jacob wrestles with God before he confronts his past with Esau. Whenever we have to confront something we don’t want to confront, we wrestle with it. God might ask us to look at something in our past and confront it. Our flesh will cry out in pain to flee. Human nature wants to leave it alone because it might be too painful to bear looking at again. Often we wrestle alone and have to get to the end of ourselves to give God control.
Maybe we are afraid of facing our past? Maybe we are bitter or unforgiving towards someone for what they’ve done to us. It could be we have done something we regret and have not forgiven ourselves. All these situations we bring into our adult lives and they make us who we are today. Yet, if we want to live an abundant life we might have to go back and deal with them to go forward to obtain our promised land the Lord has for us. Jacob is a wonderful example of this.
Issues with people, events, or circumstances need to be dealt with. If they are not, they will eventually start stinking in our lives and other people will start to notice the stench in us. They become a dead corpse. The good news is that when we decide to confront our past, God is always there with us. He is ministering to us as we turn the issue over to Him. God sees your heart and knows your motives. We are blessed when we obey His prompting and much good comes from obedience.
Write down on a separate sheet of paper any issue from your past that is unresolved, then take them to God in prayer and ask Him to help you resolve them. This takes courage!
For the rest of “Revival Of Our Past” go to Part 2.
Pastor Kris Belfils