Victim To Victor- Letting Go Of The Past
Featuring Dennis Jernigan Posted on September 22, 2008
When we become new creations through relationship with Christ, we must understand that we have to put the old ways and old thinking to death and be comforted in knowing that God will raise us up in newness of life. I am reminded of the story of Lazarus – a friend of Jesus. Lazarus had died but Jesus had not been there to speak life into him…so he laid in the grave for 3 days before Jesus was able to arrive. At the entrance of the tomb Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come forth!” and Lazarus walked out of the tomb. He rose 100% alive…but not 100% free. How do I know? Jesus commanded those around Lazarus to ‘remove from him the graveclothes’. And what were those graveclothes? These were the burial cloths that had been wrapped around the body of the dead man. He came out of the grave alive but not completely free. Just as they began to remove the things that bound up Lazarus, we must learn to remove the graveclothes that bind us to our old lives. It may be as simple as this… “Dennis, you don’t look good clothed in that selfish pride. Let’s rip that away. There. See the humility I planted in your heart? That is who you are. Let it grow. Just be that!’
One of the first things I began to do after that night in 1981 was to take
an honest look at the things that tied me to my past…and there were
many. There were pictures of me and men whom I had been involved with
in a sexual manner. I burned them one by one so I could consciously remember that
God had literally cleansed me of this past indiscretion. There were gifts I had
received from these same relationships – some of great value – that I destroyed
or sent out with the garbage. As with the pictures, each item I released reminded
me of how great the forgiveness of God really was. These items were costly in a
monetary sense – and in an emotional sense as well. The moment I would release
an object, the emotional ties were broken...and I could see a little more clearly
without wondering about what might have been. I even made a commitment to give up
going to old familiar places that had emotional ties to my past. I even went so far as to
commit to clear my mind in every way – including music.
From 1981 through 1993 I did not listen to secular or Christian music so as to learn
how to hear the voice of God for myself without unnecessary influences (even good
influences. I was after the best). At that point I also came to realize that it was not up
to me to help deliver those former friends. I was nobody’s savior! My first objective
was to seek God and get well…and trust that the God who was helping me would
also be doing the same for those I had known in wrong ways in the past.
One of the most difficult moments of giving up the past came as I thought about
the incident with my mentor back in college. It dawned on me one day that if he had done
what he did to me then he had probably acted in a similar manner with other young,
vulnerable, emotionally needy men. Through a trusted counselor, I made contact with the
authorities in this man’s life and alerted them to what had taken place in my life. My
desire was to seek restoration and healing for the one who had used me…I knew that was
the right thing to do. I was asked to give a legal deposition which consisted of an attorney
asking me the most humiliating series of questions requiring me to give every intimate
detail of what had taken place. I had asked a friend to sit in with me…and cannot begin to
communicate to you the utter disgrace, embarrassment, shame, and dishonor I felt as I
emptied my heart that day. After the deposition, my former mentor was confronted and
counseling was offered. I could do no more.
I left that deposition numb and mortified…but somehow clean and a little more
healed. Absolutely nothing had been hidden in that interview...and my friend had not
forsaken me. Had it been worth the anguish and heartache to get to that place? Definitely.
I felt clean and justified. I felt that I had taken steps to help protect other young men from
the same heartache…and began to suspect that God had allowed me to go through all I
had gone through for the sake of others…and to help me understand the depth of His
love, grace, and commitment to me.
Getting rid of the past is not easy sometimes. I recently met with a dad whose
daughter was going through a rebellious phase. He had divorced his wife and moved out
of the state to find a better job in order to support his family. As we talked, it became
apparent to me that his daughter did not feel very important to her dad…that his job was
more important than their relationship. I asked this father what his daughter was worth to
him. His reply? “Everything!” To which I countered, “Worth you giving up your job to
move back to the same city she and her mother live in? Again I ask you, what is your
daughter worth to you?”
A few weeks later I received word that he had indeed left the out-of-state job and returned
to a lower paying job in order to be near his daughter…and that ‘miraculously’ the daughter
had begun to settle down in her rebellion!
When we cut off emotional ties to our past failures, we are effectively practicing
honesty. Honesty is the first step toward truth – and truth leads to freedom. Why in the
world would we willfully allow ourselves to be dragged down to our spiritual death by
maintaining emotional baggage? That would be the equivalence of having stones tied
around our necks and then expecting to not sink. It just doesn’t work. We must be willing
to let go of our past ties if we ever expect to walk in freedom from them. Just as I asked
this dad whether his daughter was worth giving up his job for, I ask you, “Is your
freedom and sanity worth giving up the emotional ties to your past?” I think you know
the answer to that one. Let me assure you: the life that is found on the other side of
emotional dependency is worth whatever we must give up to get there. I am living proof.
I’m not there yet – but I’m well on my way!
This article is an excerpt from Dennis Jernigan's book "Victim to Victor."
Copyright 2007. Shepherd’s Heart Music, Inc. 3201 N. 74th Street W.
Muskogee, OK 74401. 800-877-0406 email@example.com
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