Summary: Your past, no manner how bad, doesn’t have to stop you from being in the plan of God. You can, with God’s grace and forgiveness, overcome your past.
I heard the story recently of two friends who were talking to each other. One remarked to his friend and said, “Man, you look so depressed. Whatever could you be thinking about to depress you so?” His friend quickly replied, “My future”. “Your future?” his friend said. “Whatever in the world would make it look so hopeless?” to which his miserable friend sighed and unhappily said “My past.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we never had problems in our past? However, most of us know that the past can load us down with baggage like guilt, depression, and fear. The past can certainly affect us and push us down. Everyday people carry scars from their past, and often these scars are still painful and tender. A former seminary professor, and a good friend of mine, used to say, “There’s no such thing as a family that is not dysfunctional in some way”. We know that the family ought to be a place where love, safety, and security can be found, but often it is not. We hear terms today like co-dependency, chemical addiction, sexual and verbal abuse, and all of these take part in families. In 1999, it was found that 826,000 children were the victims of abuse and neglect here in the United States. I doubt if there is family here today that in some way has not been touched by divorce. We have all heard the statistics that cite that roughly one-half of every marriage ends in divorce. Forty percent of young women before the age of 20 become pregnant here in the United States. Many raise children as single moms, one of the fastest growing segments of the American population. This leads to a lot of hardship and economic problems, including providing proper health care.
They say that children of dysfunctional families take on one of four different roles, either they become very controlling, or they are filled with self hatred, or they become filled with low self worth and try to be people pleasers, or they try to withdraw completely to themselves. These roles are taken on because of their attempt to escape their past. The reason I’m bringing up all of this is that I want you to see that there are a lot of hurting people, with a lot of baggage that we encounter everyday. These are people who have a past. They become labeled as losers, failures, trouble makers, insecure, all because either they or someone else close to them made mistakes. Guess what? Every single one of us here has a past. Every one of us is carrying baggage from our past because the past influences us. However, it is important to know that your past doesn’t have to keep you out of the plan of God.
Rahab was a woman with a past. Very little is mentioned about her in the scriptures. Yet she is a fascinating character. This woman who came from a pagan background was able to start over, and begin a journey that included her in receiving the inheritance of Israel, even to the point that she was included in the ancestry of the Messiah. This woman with a past was even included in God’s hall of faith. Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. Talk about the wonderful grace of God. For those who say that God’s grace can’t be found in the Old Testament need to look at Rahab. By faith, she did not perish, and by faith, she received her inheritance. There are three details in this passage of scripture that I wish to share with you this morning from the life of Rahab that show how she overcame her past and was blessed of God.