"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" – Romans chapter 8, verse 28.
Have you ever felt like past mistakes make it seem impossible to believe your shame and defeat will end up being God's glory and your blessing? I have, plenty of times, with my most "unforgivable" mistakes committed before I knew the Lord.
I say "unforgivable", since before I became a Christian, I struggled to believe in a God who could forgive all my sins, cleanse me, redeem me and truly have mercy on me. I thought there was no escape from my mistakes and sin, and I was destined to be punished for them for all eternity. Even after becoming a Christian, I still struggled with understanding how God could not only forgive me, but also love me and turn my mistakes into his glory and my blessing.
What I have just only realised now, after being a Christian for seven years, is all my mistakes, sins and bad choices are things God has used to "work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
A sad and broken past
I grew up in a single parent household without a father; he left us when I was five. As a teenager I rebelled openly and fiercely, even though I knew God existed. I never once cared about consequences. I did what I felt was good even if it meant losing a part of my heart and soul to things I hope my child will never be exposed to.
Although my mother did an amazing job of bringing up four kids on her own, I still felt an emptiness and longing in my heart. This was filled with the temporary things of this world. These mistakes have come back to haunt me time and time again. I was broken and needed a saviour, a permanent God who would heal me and permanently fill the void in my heart. And this is exactly who I found in Christ.
God as my saviour
Christ alone can save us from our downfall. "We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and thus will suffer the consequences of sin which is death. Yet, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness"– 1 John chapter 1, verse 9.
Although God does indeed forgive ALL sins regardless of how big or small the sin is (sin is still sin), we do have to confess and ask for God's forgiveness first. It was only when I did this I truly experienced the full mercy and grace of God and the lifting of my years of shame, guilt, fear and burdens.
Sometimes we may feel like our past, mistakes, sins and troubles are too big for anyone to understand or too "unforgivable". We may feel like we are stranded alone in the big, cold world and we exist merely to live and die. But God has a plan for all of us. He created the world we live in, and he knew us even when we were still in our mother's womb. He loves us and always works in us for the goodness and the glory of his kingdom.
Ultimately, it is up to us to accept God's forgiveness, grace and mercy. God gave his only Son to die for ALL of us and his forgiveness is free for all. It is up to us to take his hand and grow in the image and likeness of his Son.
As for me, I have finally come full circle. A full circle of past, present and future. Once upon a time I could not see the purpose of my past. But now my past is setting my future for God's glory. A full circle of death to life, brokenness to healing, un-forgiveness to redemption, guilt to justification, mistakes to his glory and my blessing. How amazing is God?
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia, where she is part of a research team studying therapies for lung cancer.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html