Technology has given humanity many opportunities to enhance life from the perspective of convenience and even scientific advancement. Despite the negative qualities that technology use has caused, there are still benefits to using the technology that is available to us. For example, film preservation or film restoration allows for the process of old films to be restored to a visible and increased quality. Film preservation, in essence, is the ability to rescue decaying film stock or film strips, and to preserve the images that are within the film stock. In doing so, the film is able to be used despite any damage or decay that was caused by the amount of time that the film existed. So, this process preserves and restores the film from its original image that perhaps lost quality due to time.
When you look at your life, have you ever felt as if you did something so horrible, that you could not be forgiven? Have you ever thought to yourself that your past disqualifies you from achieving success or being seen for anything other than your past? The great news is that God sees you differently than you see yourself. Just like the process of film preservation, God is able to preserve and even restore your life from your past sins and mistakes.
One Biblical example is that of the Apostle Paul. He is one of the most known individuals within the Bible, because of his past in how he persecuted the church – in addition to being the writer of most of the books in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul had a history of killing Christians before he experienced his conversion through Jesus Christ.
In Acts 7:58, the Apostle Paul whose original name was “Saul” is shown in the scripture for the first time. In Acts Chapter 7, you will see that the first Christian martyr is stoned to death in front of the Sanhedrin Council. At that time, the Sanhedrin Council was the Supreme Court that ruled in ancient Israel. Stephen who was the first Christian martyr was stoned for preaching about Jesus Christ, in which “Saul” was one of the main antagonists to the Christian church.
In Acts 8:1, it says that Saul approved of Stephen’s death. However, the reign of terror that Saul inflicted is further noted in this chapter:
Acts 8: 1-3:
(NIV) “And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”
So, Saul who later is converted to the Apostle Paul as he became known as began to destroy the church and persecuted many Christians. It was Saul’s belief that he was doing the work of the Lord, but he did not realize that he was actually a detriment to society and to the Christian faith at that time. However, God had an alternate plan for Saul.
In Acts 9, the conversion of Saul into who he would later become is recorded:
(NIV) “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The latter part of verse 19 into verse 21 shows the actual change that Paul exhibited:
(NIV) “Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”
To make a quick side note, Saul’s name being changed to Paul was strictly based on his Jewish and Roman heritage. Saul was his original name because he was born to a Roman Father. This meant that he was able to hold Roman citizenship, however, he was also a Jew. This meant that he also had a Latin name, which was “Paul”. Later after he was converted into Christianity, Saul began to use the name “Paul”, because after his conversion it was more advantageous for him to use Paul rather than Saul in order to preach unto the Gentiles.
As you can see in the scripture above, Paul’s conversion from a Christian killer to an ambassador for Jesus Christ was quite striking in contrast. God used Paul mightily throughout the rest of his life, which also resulted in him writing most of the New Testament. Yet, just as Paul was converted from his old lifestyle, God can do the same for you and I.
Regardless of your past God can use you to do great things in His Kingdom. He can also take the broken places in your life, and mend them to become straight again. It is God’s love for humanity that creates an opportunity for us to know Him in His majesty, but it is up to us to take that step.
You may feel that what you have done and who you were in your past, somehow disqualifies you from being loved by God. However, God’s love surpasses the sins that you have committed. As John 3:16 says, God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son Jesus, to die for the world’s sins. That is a testament to His love for you and I. Even if you have done something so detestable, God sees you as someone that He not only wants to save through Christ’s sacrifice but to also use in His Kingdom.
There were many examples of individuals in the Bible who were used to do great things. Some like Paul had checkered pasts, however, they were given opportunities to receive salvation and to be used in God’s Kingdom. How much of an honor would it be, to serve the creator of the universe while knowing that you were not perfect? God doesn’t expect you and I to be perfect, but He wants us to come to the knowledge of who He is.
God can restore you through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Regardless of what you did or what you are currently doing, God is able to redeem you from your past or present sin. Just as Paul was given an opportunity to receive salvation and to be used, you too have an opportunity to be changed through Jesus Christ. If you are carrying guilt because of what you did, then you are living in bondage to your past. 1 Peter 5:7 says, (NIV) “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God is the one who is able to bear the burden that we carry.
All of us have burdens that we carry in our day to day walk. However, by allowing God to restore you from your past, and to carry your burden you are able to be free. Do you know Jesus in the pardon of your sin? If not, then you have a grand opportunity to seek salvation through Christ’s sacrifice. God can use you for His Kingdom despite the mistakes you have made. It is up to you to seek the Lord for healing and restoration.