These words are from an old song, but it is a song we often have a hard time singing. We don't want to let go of things, we can't get over situations which have baffled us. We also have a very hard time moving away from who we used to be if who we used to be was a not so good person.
But that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone
I can remember the time the apostle Paul told his story as one who used to be a persecutor, a wrong thinking person who did not know the truth. As he spoke, he spoke of who he used to be and who he had now become. It was a point of reference to highlight his change of faith, his change of lifestyle and belief. He was coming clean.
For the addict, it is essential to come clean, to live in honesty. It is also harmful to live in the past, either glorifying our past behavior or keep beating ourselves up for what we did. Not much we can do about it now except make amends, or so we think. But what if we had an encounter with a miracle worker, a lover of mankind who absolutely sold out for us, and wanted all the people with ugly pasts to thrive?
What if he wanted the down and dirty to become shining examples who would not just become followers, but become great leaders? What a great concept! Except for one major thing, we keep thinking we were yesterday's person, not today's.
But that was yesterday and yesterday's gone
If Paul had thought the same way many of us do, he would never have become such a great man of God and example of what a u-turn Christ can help us make. His being blinded was like our bottom, it had to happen to make such a radical change. So we were wrong, so was he. Let's just get over it and move on to a greater vision of how God sees us not how we see ourselves.
I remember being asked to preach a sermon while being separated which ultimately led to a divorce. I remember thinking how could a loser like me have anything to say that would have an impact on someone else. Well I gave the best sermon of my life, on forgiveness, and folks were crying and they even wanted to write me a check for coming. Then they invited me back.
We think so poorly of ourselves when God sees us as his masterpieces because we have come from one foot in hell to the doorstep of heaven. And you know something - we don't have to pay a fine or a toll to get in, it's already been paid!
I can imagine getting there and the Lord saying to me, "You used to be a pretty bad dude", but that was yesterday and yesterday's gone!
PS I didn't take the check because I have already been paid in full!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.