I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. {Galatians 2:20}

There are many verses that share this same idea. When we decide to follow Jesus, our lives are transformed. We step from the darkness into the light. For some of us, we met Christ as a child and don’t remember much before Him. For others, we were a completely different person, living in a world of hurt and sin. What I want to say today is that we should never be ashamed of who we were or what we did before we gave our lives to Christ.  Our stories are stories of redemption. They show the power of God’s grace. Seeing the old creation become new makes the cross beautiful.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. {Psalm 103:8-12}

When we repent of our sins, God forgives us and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. How much more so will he forgive us for the things we did before we gave Him our lives. (Just look at the story of the lost son.) I’m sure many of us have pain, regret, or lasting effects from mistakes we made before we were living for the Lord. Some of those things may not even be our fault; they could be things that we had to deal with. No matter what it is, God loves you through it. He knows your heart and chooses you anyway. Never be ashamed of who you once were, but use your life, your story, as a picture of God’s faithfulness and mercy. We all know that God has a reason for everything. Even the tiniest detail is part of God’s sovereign plan. It can be sometimes difficult to see how he works in those hurtful things, but He makes all things good. What you went through before you knew Christ made you who you are now. It gives you an incredible story and perspective to share with those who have not yet made that decision to follow Christ. Knowing that we were once walking in darkness and are now walking in the light should not make us cower away from our past. We should use our stories to encourage others and to display what a merciful God we serve. Be brave and courageous. Embrace your story.