Over my lifetime, I’ve lived in Coldwater MS, Laurel MS, Pearl MS, Baton Rouge LA (Geaux Tigers!), Jacksonville, AR, Gravel Ridge AR (twice), Searcy, AR, Little Rock AR, Sulphur LA and my current place of residence Waco TX. Such is the life of a preacher’s kid and minister. Each of those places are part of my history and there were lessons learned in each place. There are lessons being learned in my current place and future lessons to be learned no matter where I’m at. There are good and bad memories in each place. Those places are part of my life. They are part of my history.
Each of you have your own history of places you’ve lived, experiences you’ve had, choices you’ve made, people you’ve met, etc. Would you trade any of them? If you could would it change the person you are today?
I have wondered from time to time if men like the apostles Paul or Peter ever wanted to trade in any of their experiences. What regrets did they have about decisions they made before coming to know Jesus in such a personal way?
Paul might give us a glimpse into his thinking in passages like 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
“6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” NIV
Paul knew where he had been, where he was and where he was going. As he neared the end of his life, no one needed to remind him of the person he was before he met Jesus. He knew his history. But he also knew his present circumstances. He was an apostle. He had taught and preached to probably thousands about Jesus. He had endured suffering for that very reason that probably most of us can’t imagine. He had come from being an enemy of the church to being one of its greatest advocates. I don’t think Paul would have traded in anything because it made him who he was.
We may not like all our history. There may be events in your past that are embarrassing or make you feel ashamed. But, one thing I take from Paul and his words in 2 Timothy is that what matters most is how you finish. Paul finished strong because of his faith in Jesus. So can we.