He has removed our sins as far from us as the East is from the West.” Psalm 103:12
It was a voice from my past—and it was singing the blues. While we were in Southwest Florida on holiday, I tried to keep up with my morning routines. That included, first and foremost, coffee. After coffee and a look at the weather, came God time. After God time came Judy time. After Judy time came—exercise time. The problem with all these times is they all take time. Before I knew it, the sun was up, the humidity was up and the temperature was up. Regardless, I had to get up and get going.
The first morning we were there I was still learning the lay of the land and wasn’t exactly sure where I should walk. So, I headed toward the way in and out of our condo property. This led to the highway and so I took a left and decided to walk on the edge of the road. It was safe but it was miserable. There was no shade and soon it was just plain hot—very hot—“why am I doing this” hot. I was determined to go my 3.6 miles but I began wondering if this was such a good idea. After a little while longer I was sure it wasn’t. But you know how men are—do or die and in this case, death might have been an upgrade. Ok, I’m exaggerating.
In my misery, I met an old friend. There was a point when I had to cross a bridge across a channel. They had built a walkway but to get to the walkway you had to go behind a guardrail through the weeds. Without breaking stride I charged on and then I saw them. Sand spurs. These were old friends from my childhood. They are a type of weed and have sharp, spine covered balls of pain at the ends of long stems. They will grab anything that gets close and if that happens to be your skin…you are done. If they don’t get you when they attach, they will get you when you try to detach them. Ugh.
Like I said, they were an old foe from my childhood. When I was a kid, we would run barefoot all the time and without fail we would step on them. They would hurt…bad. Well, this time, even though I tried to avoid them, they found their way onto my shoes and socks but I didn’t find them till I got back from my walk. As I was sitting by the pool trying to recover from a 145 heart rate and the 100 humidity, I found them. And, just like the old days, they made sure to give me a “stick and an ouch” as I tried to remove them. Just. Like. The. Old. Days. Though it was years ago, the whole sand spur scene was painfully fresh.
I find that sand spurs aren’t the only painful thing that loves to bump into our present. Often, too often, unpleasant memories and regrets, sneak back into our lives and cause us pain all over again. Try as we may, sometimes, it seems they reattach themselves to us and we relive the whole hot mess again. It could be a similar situation or maybe a repeat performance but all the pain and remorse comes flooding back. I hate it, you hate I,t but how do we avoid it?
Well, I tried to avoid the sand spurs on my walk. I saw them, I knew they were there, but in my rush, my determination to exercise, I simply didn’t give them the wide berth they deserved. I should have made it a higher priority. I realized that when I was later trying to remove them. When you sense, when you feel your ugly, painful past creeping into the present, do whatever it takes to change the scenario. Don’t allow yourself to pull to the “sand spurs” of past failures. Trust me—they will attach themselves to your present with all their former pain.
There is one more thing that is even more important than that. Should you find yourself reliving that regret, run straight into the arms of grace. Remember, relive the forgiveness that came after the failure. The Bible tells us that God casts our failures as far as the East is from the West. I love that because it doesn’t say as far as the North is from the South. You see if you go North long enough you will find the South. But not so with East from the West. You can travel East forever and never find the West. And that dear friend, is what God does with our failures and sin if we ask Him for forgiveness and help. It is gone—outta here and that is real good news.
Well, I couldn’t wait to show Judy my sand spurs, not because I liked them but because they reminded me of an important part of my past—the fact that I knew they were not going to be a permanent part of my future. I may have bumped into them, but I wasn’t going to live with them again. And that is a good thing. So as you are speed walking though life, remember to give your painful past a wide berth and keep Jesus close by your side. You’ll find Him a mobile “rest stop,” there to make every step, every day survivable and “thrive-able.” And never forget, He’s got this.