My favorite time of the year has to be the holiday season. We get three holidays in a little over month! It can’t get better than that! But best holiday out of the three, at least in my opinion, has to be Christmas. I just love seeing all the decorations, lights, as well as catching the “25 Days of Christmas” special on ABC Family! I especially love Christmas music! I can listen to it all day. Once it hits December 1st, my radio is always tuned to 106.7 FM as they play Christmas music all day, everyday until Christmas. And of course I could never forget why we even celebrate Christmas. I am forever grateful for God’s ultimate gift of Jesus to our world. For without him, we’d be nothing and would have nothing to celebrate. Christmas is also a time where we can reflect on our lives. It is a time where we reflect and evaluate our lives, asking ourselves “Am I where I want to be right now?” It’s a time where we reflect on our past, look to the future and evaluate our present. Its when we look at our Past, Future, and Present. Sound familiar? I thought so!
Ghost of Christmas Past
Christmas is a time where can reflect on our past. And for some of us, if not most of us, our past can be haunting. It can be difficult to ignore or even forget. It’s the elephant in the room. It is like a ghost that no one else knows it’s there but you. Although the past is behind us, we should not doubt it’s power. For the past has the power to destroy your future. This can only happen if we allow it.
One example of this comes way back, only weeks before the first Christmas. It comes from a man named Zechariah.
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.” – Luke 1:5-7
According to Scripture, both Zechariah and Elizabeth were both “righteous in the sight of God.” They followed all the commandments and for the most part, did not do anything wrong. But as obedient and faithful as they were, they were not able to receive the one thing they truly desired: a child. But then this happened:
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” – Luke 1:11-17
An angel appears to Zechariah and tells him that despite their very old age and their countless attempts at having a child, they were finally going to have a child. Zechariah responds just like the way any one of us would:
“Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” – Luke 1:18
The key phrase here is “How can I be sure of this?” In that question lies doubt. And that doubt formed from the past. Zechariah and Elizabeth have had so many past failed attempts. At their old age, who knows how many times they could have failed. The older they got, the more they lost their hope. So when they got the news from the angel that they were going to have a child, the past of their failed attempts came to haunt them and they couldn’t help but question the angel. Their past made them question God’s will for their lives.
This Christmas, I know there are a countless number of broken hearts out there. Hearts broken because of past failures, past hurts, past hardships and past sin. Christmas is a just a time where they are just reminded of it. It’s a time where they are forced to reflect on a past we try so hard to forget but it always seems to haunt us, especially around Christmas. Although the past is behind us, it has the power to break our future. More specifically, it can affect God’s plan for our lives.
Our haunting past can cause us to doubt God’s plan for our future. It happened to Zechariah. His past failed attempts of having a child caused him to doubt what God had in store for him. We can look at our past and lose our hope. We think to ourselves, if God never blessed us then, why would he bless us now? But God has a timing for everything. He may not had given what we wanted in the past but that doesn’t mean he will not bless you in the future. If it’s a part of his will of course. God’s timing is perfect because he is perfect and he knows you better than you know yourself. He will bless you when he feels if necessary. So don’t lose hope. The best thing we can do is praise him in the process.
“Trust in the Lordwith all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding”
Another aspect of a haunting past can be our past hurts and hardships. There have many times we have been hurt, let down or even heartbroken. Every time we are reminded of it, it breaks us even more and causes to lose sight of what really matters. We do not know why heartbreak happens and I’m sure all of us would like to go without it, but we have to remember that no matter what happens, God is always in control. He has a reason for everything. It may have taken heartbreak to get us out of wrong relationships. It may have taken hurt to build up your character. God knows all things. And that brokenness you are feeling, will all go away once you give it all to God. He is the only one capable enough to hold your heart.
“Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken. ” – Psalm 55:22
A haunting past can not consist of past hurts, failures and hardships, but it can also consist of reminders of past sin. I myself can attest to this. When I think of my past sin, I can’t help but think of myself as unworthy. I can’t help but look at God’s blessings on my life and ask him, why? What did I ever do to even deserve an ounce of what you’ve given me? But it’s then, when he reminds me of grace. He reminds me that although I failed him, he still loves me, he still has a plan for me and my failures has never affected the calling he has for my life. Past sin can cause us to doubt God’s will for our lives. We think of ourselves as unworthy and think God will never come through for us after what we’ve done. But he can! I know because he did it to me! And if he did it for me, surely he can do it for you! There’s no grading system for sin. It’s all the same! And God’s grace washes every bit of it. So the next time your past sin tries to haunt you, remind yourselves that God already took care of it. Because with sincere repentance comes instant forgiveness. As long as you are sincere about forgiveness, God will give you forgiveness.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
Our past has the power to hold us back from the future. It has the power to cause us to doubt God’s will and plan for our lives. Although our past may be a dark place, it is now a part of your testimony. It has no hold on you unless you let it. You have the power to overcome the haunting of the past. When you see it creeping up on you, remind yourself God’s will goes beyond it. This Christmas, as you are bound to reflect on the past, don’t be ashamed of it but look at it as how much God has brought you through. This Christmas, break the Ghost of Christmas Past and embrace God’s grace and where he will take you too.