She replied that she was very happy to have found us, that she enjoyed worshiping with us, and that she had indeed found the people loving and welcoming. I was certainly happy to hear that.
Then she surprised me with what she said next, “I have a past, you know.” I didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. My responsibility was not to judge her past but to help her come to know Jesus.
The specifics of our past vary, and some have a more glaring and shameful past than others, but we all have a past. We are all broken. We have all made mistakes. We have all done things for which we are ashamed.
To deny that is to be dishonest with ourselves. Unless we are innocents (children or those not responsible for their actions), we have done enough to break God’s heart. We are a part of that “all” who have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
The story doesn’t end here, however. I said to the lady, “But, we all have a future, too” She smiled broadly, hugged me, and said “Oh, yes, and I’m so glad for that.”
That’s really good news, isn’t it? We all have a past, but we also have a future. What it will be is up to us.
The same Paul, who wrote Romans 3:23, also wrote Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Ah, that gift! How wonderful it is. Because of God’s grace, there is a plan of salvation that will bring forgiveness here (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:7-9) and eternal joy and peace there (Rev. 14:13; 22:14).
May we all be mindful of our past and learn from it, and may we all rejoice in the prospect of a wonderful future here and hereafter. That will encourage us on our journey.