Thursday, July 2, 2015

Finding God's Presence ~ Wrestling With The Past

by Nan Jones   @NanJonesAuthor

Guest Blogger, Martin Wiles  @linesfromgod

My guest today is Martin Wiles.  I know Martin through his work with Christian Devotions and as a fellow author with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He has a heart that yearns to know God more and a deep compassion for those who are searching for the Lord he loves. Together we pray that the words of his heart will touch you and give you strength for the journey. Is there something you're trying to let go - something painful from your past? Maybe a regret? Maybe a void in your heart? Maybe a wound that runs deep? Ponder Martin's words and allow Jesus to set you free.

Welcome Martin!

She often wrestled with her past. Some days, she felt as if she was winning; others, she wasn’t sure. Beth was the oldest of three siblings. They grew up in a loving home, but there was one thing that scarred her memory. The words “I love you.” 

Beth could only remember her father speaking them when she was a young girl. Somewhere along the way, he stopped telling her. But she could never remember hearing those words from her mother. Her sisters confessed they hadn’t either. Their home had a loving atmosphere. It would just have been nice to hear love in addition to seeing it in actions.

As adults, the siblings psychoanalyzed their parents. While both of them grew up in loving homes, neither grew up in homes where love was spoken. Beth made a decision before she married and had children. She would say the words she rarely heard. She was tired of wrestling with her past. 

In the book of Genesis, we learn that Jacob wrestled with his past. He had stolen his older brother’s birthright. Then he had tricked his father and stolen his brother’s final blessing. Jacob's brother hated him and swore to kill him. He ran. Many years later—while on his way back to face his brother—Jacob wrestled with God over his past mistakes.

Like everyone else, I have things in my past I wrestle with. Ruminating on the misery of my mistakes or the bad atmospheres I endured does nothing for my present or future. Only as I think about what I can do differently—or avoid altogether, is my present and future affected. 

Beth decided she wouldn’t be a prisoner of her past. When she married and had children, she often told them “I love you.” Jacob wouldn’t either. Even if it was painful. 

My past can haunt or help me. The choice is mine. I am who I am because of it, but I can also change who I am because of it. There’s much I can learn from my past—positive and negative.

The past is set in stone, but my present and future are pliable. With God’s guidance, I can enhance them both. A part of me is what I was, but most of me is what I choose to become. 

Are you winning when you wrestle with your past?

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, 
and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn.  
Genesis 32:24 NLT

Prayer: Father, help us use our pasts to our advantage rather than allowing them to destroy us.

A Tweetable to Encourage Others

Meet Martin: 

Martin Wiles is a "preacher's kid," author and speaker who understands the struggles believers face. He can be followed on Love Lines From God ( Dr. Wiles has been published in The Secret Place and Light From The Word, and is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions. He is also a regular columnist for the Common Ground Herald newspaper. Wiles has authored Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity and Grace Greater Than Sin. He and his wife Michelle reside in Greenwood, South Carolina. His most recent book, Grits & Grace & God, is available on Amazon.

Find Grits & Grace & God on Amazon here.


  1. Great post, Martin. And timely. In a few weeks, I'm speaking to a women's Bible study group on legacies. One section deals with letting go of the negative legacies of the past. I'd love to read your post to the women, if I may. You make a beautiful point that so many don't consider. We don't have to be "a prisoner" of our past.

    1. Sally, I loved this post too, especially the image of how we wrestle literally with our past. I can see the battle between flesh and spirit clearly and it really is a wrestling match! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I'm amazed at how many times my devotions all line up together and then God says, "Here, you need this blog post too" to go along with it! I wrote this down from my devotion time one day this week, "Wallowing in the past will keep us stuck in the past and incapable of moving into the fresh start God has planned us in the present." It also amazes me how many times I think I've dealt with something and then through things like devotions and God's words through other people I realize I'm still struggling with it. Enjoyed this Martin - great food for thought this week. Nan, thank you for sharing this with us too. :-)

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Marcie. I love how the Lord coordinates a message from lots of different sources when He wants to get it in our knower. And I agree: this is great food for thought.