Ghostly Story, January 6, 2024

Pastor Delbert’s Weekly Devotion

Published © January 6, 2024

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-15 NLT

The year was 1971. I was merely a nine-year-old boy growing up in a small city in northwest Louisiana. It was a cold winter evening and my family was visiting my grandma, Ola House. The sun had set and old man winter had set up for a long night. The wind blew in a southern direction bringing a frosty northern cold front. My cousin Wayne Shaw and I were out in the backyard keeping watch over a controlled fire that had been burning. Two great and thoughtful grandkids doing a wonderful deed for their grandma. I had just thrown another stick on the fire when I thought I heard a slight whimper coming from somewhere deep down inside my cousin. I looked into his eyes hoping my ears were playing a trick. But my keen hearing had not let me down for in the eyes of my fire keeping friend was a deep petrified fear. My amygdala immediately began sending warnings to every part of my body. With a hush whisper I said, “what’s wrong!” With a trembling voice that was just a decimal above a whisper he said, “It’s a ghost.” With fear and trepidation, I slowly turned and behind me was a white sheet dangling from a clothes line. I turned back and with sheer confidence I said courageously, “Relax, it is only one of Mammaw’s sheets hanging to dry.” Laughing, I again turned to see our aspiring foe, and in that moment, time seemed to stop. For in that delay, the motionless sheet went into a complete forward motion and took three rapid steps forward. My cousin immediately went into escape mode and ran. I unfortunately was completely paralyzed by fear. The “ghost” seeing my dilemma took two more steps toward me. It was then that I broke free from my imprisonment. With the speed of an Olympian sprinter, I ran toward a group of parents who had suspiciously gathered outside in the yard. It was then, that I realized we had been duped. For under the sheet was no other than my sweet grandma. Now here’s my question. That was 50 years ago and when our family gathers together someone will ask, “Do you remember that time?”

The funny thing about our past is that it doesn’t always stay in our past. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not that funny. Maybe for you it’s that you have a problem losing your temper, and you’ve said some words to a loved one that you wish you could get back and they’ll never forget. Or maybe for you it’s the maddening reoccurring cycle of ongoing sin where you say, “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I did.” Or maybe for you it’s that you betrayed a spouse and no matter how many steps you take, you can’t ever seem to move forward. Or maybe it’s the expectations that you had for yourself. You thought by now your life would look better. But you woke up on January 1, 2024 and life looks so much different, but not in a good way.

The past doesn’t stay in our past. It’s like a bitter cold wind from winter blowing in reminding us what we’ve done. The problem is this, if we can’t let go of our past, we can’t take hold of the future that God has for us. God’s word has good news for you. Jesus doesn’t leave us holding onto our past. Instead he comes to us when we need it the most. The question for you is what’s 2024 going to be about? Are you going to allow the enemy to hold you back because you are unwilling to let go of your past? Or are you going to close the door and step into God’s call that he has on your life in 2024. You see, the truth is this, we can’t change the past, and Lord knows there’s things in your life you wish you could walk back through that door and undo, but you can’t. But PRAISE GOD for His grace that can change your future. May you be a person who steps into the calling that God has placed on your life in 2024. You can’t change your past, but God can give you a new future.

Dear Jesus, you are the grace we need to start over. Help us to see that the past doesn’t have to paralyze us. Give us the strength to reach up and take your hand and walk into the newness you provide. Help us then live out the new creation that we are. In Jesus Name!

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Go Deeper Scripture: Luke 22, John 21, Psalms 38:4, Genesis 3:7, John 1:12-13, 1st John 1:9

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