I can hardly drive past Fresno State without feelings of guilt and shame.
In our town, everyone goes to Fresno State football games. It’s just what you do. And I did. When I was attending college, I went to every game (well at least I went to every tailgate before the game – I can’t remember if we actually made it in to every game).
I was not a Christian in college. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, I just didn’t know Him. So I lived my life accordingly. I drank.I smoked. I partied. And other stuff. Stuff that I wish to God I could take back. Stuff I wish I could give back.
We had a lot of fun at those games, in those frat houses, on those streets. But now they all carry shame.
I can’t even drive by that stadium without my heart racing a bit and my mind filling with memories. One night, I was drunk and stupid (and I think barefoot?) and I jumped in the car with a guy named “Midnight”. No one knew his real name, just that he was the local drug dealer and he was “friends” with lots of people. I decided I didn’t want to walk back to the apartments and thought it would be funny if I just drove with him instead of staying with all of my friends. (Sorry Mom if you’re reading this – I know. I hate it too.) So I just jumped in his car, left my friends, and told them I’d meet them back at the house.
I trusted Midnight would drive me safely to my friend’s house!?!? Guess he turned out to be a good guy because, well, here I am. I don’t remember what exactly happened, but I think I made it back safely?
I know that Christ has forgiven me, but sometimes, I struggle to believe it.
I look back on my days in college and honestly can’t believe some of the stuff I’ve done. I should be dead. And I’m not exaggerating in the least. The amount of stupid choices I made, mixed with alcohol, lowered inhibitions, and incoherence . . . I can’t believe I’m alive. But you know what’s harder to believe?
There are days when my past comes back to haunt me. I know that Christ has forgiven me, but sometimes, I struggle to believe it. The enemy whispers those memories to me every time there is a football game. I haven’t stepped foot in that stadium in 7 years because of it. I still feel like that sin is fresh in my life. And there are days I still carry the weight, the guilt, and the shame of it all.
Christ knew me on my worst day, and loved me.
He saw my sin and bore my shame. He welcomed me in.
Until I remember the Gospel.
That Christ knew me on my worst day, and loved me. That He saw my sin and bore my shame. That He welcomed me in – dirty, sinful, bruised and broken.
Although I hate driving past the stadium, in the same way it brings me hope. I know that there are places-memories-secrets-sin we all have that come back to haunt us. And I’m reminded by the stench of my past that the aroma Christ of greater. Passing down memory lane makes me grateful for the present and hopeful for the future. Because “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8:1)
And that is Good News.
Does your past ever come back to haunt you? Do you struggle to rest in His forgiveness? Let’s take those thoughts captive together and replace them with this truth.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us…” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 6:38)
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