My Past Does Not Control My Future

My Past Does Not Control My Future

June 27, 2017

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

Years ago, I had a small pain on the bottom of my foot. Over time it became more painful, causing me to walk with a limp. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and made a doctor’s appointment.

The doctor quickly diagnosed me with a plantar wart. Unfortunately, it was on the pad of my foot, so the doctor said he couldn’t remove it, as the scar would be just as painful. The only solution was a slow removal by repeatedly applying a professional grade chemical. For months.

During that time, I took the maximum amounts of painkiller and limped everywhere.

Finally, the wart and pain went away. But I still limped.

I limped for at least a month after there was no pain. And each time I’d catch myself limping, I’d have to force myself to walk normally. I conditioned my mind to trust there was no pain, and eventually I was able to walk limp-free.

That experience taught me the power of the mind to keep you in bondage long after you’ve been set free. Although my experience was physical, I’ve also experienced feeling in bondage to a behavior.

That’s how I used to feel about my schedule.

For so long I felt powerless to do anything about the amount of work I had to do. In some ways, I felt like a slave to my to-do list.

That wasn’t true, but I found myself resentful of other people and their needs. I even got annoyed at the dentist as I took my kids to a checkup. As if they were the reason my life was a train-wreck!

It took years for the Lord to deal with my bondage to an over-busy life. Every time I’d make a change and lighten my schedule, it would feel unnatural. So I’d retreat back to what felt normal, and that was an over-stuffed schedule.

Our key verse today (Galatians 5:1) makes it clear we are not to be bound to anything or anyone who keeps us from the freedom we have in Christ: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

It’s easy to slip into habits we feel powerless to change. Whether it’s being too busy, gossip, over-eating, poor financial stewardship or any other harmful habit, God desires to free us from its ability to control us. He wants us to see we aren’t victims. With His help, we can choose new habits and not be controlled by our past.

We aren’t the only ones who have needed this message. After God set the Israelites free from Egyptian slavery, He set guidelines in place to help reshape their thinking and teach them how to be free.

They needed to shift their allegiance from a harsh earthly master to a loving heavenly Father. So among other things, God requested the people not work one day a week. How kind of God to build rest into the lives of people who had only known work. But it wasn’t just for the physical rest: God wanted His people to trust Him.

Their old master worked them until they dropped, but God wanted them to know their future wouldn’t be like their past. Although they were slaves before, they weren’t slaves now.

God wants the same for us. What controlled us in the past doesn’t have to control us in the future.

This means I’m not a slave to my schedule. I might have some non-negotiable responsibilities, but I do have some choices. I don’t have to fill every waking moment with something to do.

By choice, we all serve someone or something. But as we shift our allegiance to God, the chains to other masters fall off.

Today, He is still reshaping our thinking from bound by “chains” to set free.

God wants to whisper hope into every weary heart that tomorrow doesn’t have to be like yesterday. Yesterday we might have been burdened by others’ expectations or by our own choices, but today we can walk in the freedom of a new life in Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for opening my eyes to what has held me captive from obeying You fully. I want to trust You more and walk in Your freedom. Help my unbelief. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, …” (NIV)

Jonah 2:8, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” (ESV)

Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Doing Busy Better, releases next Tuesday, July 4. If you have felt chained to the master of over-work and are tired of feeling tired, you’ll appreciate the hard-earned wisdom Glynnis shares about how to find God’s gift of true soul rest. Pre-order bonuses are available when you order through Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Visit Glynnis on her blog today for a giveaway of her new book.

Do you feel weary today? If so, make a choice to stop working for five minutes and sit in the presence of your loving heavenly Father.

In those five minutes, pour out your heart to your Father, and let Him bring you comfort and peace.

© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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  1. Michelle Todd says:

    Thank you!! I have been wanting so desperately to hear this!! You just don’t know how frustrated I have been feeling. This is exactly what I needed to hear!

  2. Kelly Stauff says:

    I was in bondage to drug addiction for nearly 20 years until the Lord saved me and set me free from it 2 1/2 years ago. Since then I have changed everything in my life [closed my old Facebook and begun a new one, deleted old “friends” from my phone and life, changed locations to stay away from them and the things that would trigger me]; some therapy to deal with my issues and to regain my God given humanity that is full of grace and trust in the Lord; and it is time that heals and restores. It has taken a whole lot of bible study to know who I am in the Lord, what He wants of me and how he wants me to raise my 2 children to know and love him; a whole lot of community involvement through my church and those who were God’s hands in that situation. I am not saying I am fixed, because we are all broken in our own ways, but I am a work in progress, the clay on His potters wheel, and only through God’s love, mercy and grace have I made it this far.
    All the Glory to God, my Abba Almighty!!!!

    • God bless you Kelly! thank you for sharing your testimony!

    • Praise the Lord! Thank you for sharing your testimony.

    • God bless you! May you continue to feel His joy and strength! This is awesome! 😀

    • Praise the Lord

    • Eugenea says:

      Each step you have taken will lead you to the next positive step. Old losses, new gains. I watched someone destroy their life because they kept looking back and could not let go. Prays for you to continue in your growth and walk! A sister in Christ….

    • Roxanne says:

      Praise the Lord Kelly!!!! I pray for you and your Devine testimony

    • Dear Kelly, I’m praising God today for His powerful work in your life. You are a new person in Christ! The old is gone. I’m so thankful you left a comment today so I could praise God for what He’s done in your life.

    • WOW! Praise the Lord!! Your reply touched my heart! What an awesome testimony. Kelly, your love for God, your strength and determination through Christ, will not only guide you but also allow you to be an example to others. Thank you so much for this testimony of God’s ability to touch a life…yours.

    • Rochelle says:

      So wonderfully said, Sister in Christ. I am blessed by your testimony, and very encouraged that you are on the right, and only truth path. May our Abba Father continue to keep you and protect you. May He abundantly Bless you and your family with His grace, mercy, strength, favor and faithfulness. To GOD be the Glory….much love.

    • Rondia Little says:

      Blessings Dear Sister! If only others in these types of situations could do as you have! It takes a willingness to change almost every area of your life to gain deliverance from addictions, and other sins… You are to be commended on you perseverance towards the right! Changing FB , friends, old hang outs, etc is completely necessary to overcome. I know, I was living a wicked life that involved drugs as well as other sins. I was so bound, and to get to where God wanted me it took moving, change of friends, job, so many things. This isn’t easy to do, but with God’s help, I’ve made a complete turn around from that life. He has been there for me every step of the way, and is the only reason I’m where I am now… Standing under the waterfall of His grace! I’m FREE!!! It’s been 1 year and 9 months and I’m so happy! Satan tempts me to look back into “Egypt” but I rebuke him in the name of my Redeemer Jesus! Good bless you richly! Keep the faith! It is worth it all!!!

    • Michelle says:

      Proud of you Kelly. Keep up the EXCELLENT WORK!

  3. The aspect of “harmful habits” is so true, as often our minds cling to the very things that create such misery. Perhaps fear becomes so dominate we once again “freeze” as in yesterday’s devotion and forget He is only a breath and prayer away. If you have ever observed little ones play with playdough they often become so entrenched and compelled to create a masterpiece. They stay involved until it is complete, as so does our Father regardless of the restarts, do- overs, and mistakes. I am in awe that He never walks away and remains available to help us heal and start again not just once in awhile but every moment. Even in our pain our Father will hold us and reveal step by step healthier choices. I really feel He longs for us to release our fears and embrace His grace. His gift of peace is utterly priceless.

    • Hi Sandy, what a beautiful description of how our heavenly Father never gives up on us. And I agree with you about God wanting us to release our fears. As a parent I know that longing for my children to completely trust me. Thank you for this today!

  4. Be still and know that He is GOD.
    Thank you for your inspiring words. Life is too busy, and so easy to push God to the back of our priority list, When in fact He should be the first thing we address,then the rest is not as stressful. Amen! <

  5. Erica Reed says:

    Hallelujah! Thank God for freedom!

    • Omega De La rosa says:

      Thank u just for ur past seems like it never goes away it pops up alot and i was praying about reading what u wrote let me realize god heard so greatful thst u share and i read.ur inspire me alot.thank u for what u do hav that i need.pray for me cause i liv by my mom and sister and brother in law that could careless about me.the sad thing about it is i always wish they would lov me.and i wish god would find me a lady my age that could be a friend a mentor a good sister and help me in faith and wish this person had a church i could go to.amen

  6. Years ago, my husband and I were houseparents at a Christian residential facility for troubled teens. Our boss told us that every child there had a story that would break our hearts. The kids would use their stories as excuses for bad behavior and poor decisions. We were taught to respond, every time, “Today you have a choice, you can choose whether your past will ruin your future.” Everyone working there used the same words, because those troubled kids had to hear it dozens of times before they believed it, before that spark of hope burned in their souls.

    Thank you, Glynnis, for breathing this spark of hope into our souls.

    • Eugenea says:

      Beautiful advice Shirlee. Think we can each use the same phrase for whatever it is that enslaves us….today you have a choice!
      thank you

    • Hi Shirlee, I always love your comments and look forward to reading them. That is a really great saying! I think everyone of us should remember that. Thank you!

  7. Jeannie Gilmet says:

    This devotion really hit home to me soul. Thank you so much for your obedience to God

  8. What a beautiful reminder that sitting in the presence of my Heavenly Father brings refreshment. Thank you

  9. Thank you! Just what I needed to hear today as I make a big decision which will ultimately give me more freedom from my schedule.

  10. Dear Glynnis,

    Thank you for your encouraging words this morning…I need to hear this today. God bless you.


  11. Michelle says:

    Thank you for the reminder. God is so amazing and he uses people a song etc for confrimation. Your past doesn’t control you even if others try to remind you or label you. I’ve learned that GOD uses people like you to pull you out of bondage. Just like SAINT will use some people’to keep you in bondage. Who will you believe. Cause God says he didn’t give us a sprit of fear. I’ve learned your past is your past we all have one lol.

  12. WOW! This message is what I needed to read this morning. I, too, am in that stress cycle riding the emotional rollercoaster. Recently my daughter combed my hair and found that I had a bald spot about the size of a dime. It was devastating to me. I cried and said what? I’m losing my hair? Later, when I was by myself, I cried again. I talked to God. I said ok God, you said that you wouldn’t put more on us than we can bare. What is going on? What do you want me to do? Am I doing something that you don’t want me to do? Is this causing me stress and causing my hair to come out? Did i mention that about a month ago when my phone completed an undate I lost more than half of my contacts? According to my phone carrier, there was no way to get the contacts back since I didn’t have them backed up to the cloud. I truly believe that this was God’s way of removing these folks from my life to cause less stress to be stress free. My past does not control my future. Thank the Lord for that. Thank you God for forgiveness and for forgiving me. Thus morning I looked at my life to see whats causing this stressful hair loss. I prayed for God to remove that segment from my life and i asked Him to guide me and direct me to focus on Him while remembering that my past does not control my future.

    • Dear Jan, It sounds like the Lord is doing something in your life … definitely trying to get your attention. As you pause and pray, I’m asking the Lord to reveal what is hidden and to shine His light on all areas that He wants to touch and heal. May the Lord bless you today!

  13. Sue jason says:

    One flaw in women
    Women have strengths that amaze men.they bear hardships and carry burdens, but they hold happiness, love and joy. They smile when they want to scream . They sing when they want to cry. They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous. They fight for what they believe in. They stand up to injustice. They don’t take “no” for an answer when they believe there is a better solution. They go without so their family can have. They go to the doctor with a frightened friend. They love unconditionally. They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards. They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding. Their hearts break when a friend dies. They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left. They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart. Women come in all shapes and sizes and colors. They’ll drive, fly, walk, run or email you to show how much they care about you. The heart of a women is what makes the world keep turning. They bring joy and hope and love. They have the compassion and ideas. They give moral support to their family and friends. Women have vital things to say and everything to give.HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE FLAW IN WOMEN, IT IS THAT THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH?” Compliments of Pat Howell, The Country Register of MIchigan… I want to add they forget there worth in CHRIST JESUS… you devotional….i struggled for years…with being in bondage to busyness….God Bless your ministry!

  14. Jennifer James says:

    Loved this devotion! In addition, sometimes as Christian women we feel the need to “do good” and “help” other people. Clean the church, cook someone dinner, visit people in the hospital….the list goes on and on of “good” things to spend our time on. I was so busy saying YES to everything that seemed good…I was exhausted and had no energy for the things I should have been doing.

    I remember when I realized the fact that by saying YES to something, by default, I was also saying NO to something……..In my case it was my family!

  15. Thank you for this devotional today, I needed to hear it. It’s a wonderful reminder to not let our past ruin our future, our attitude is our choice after all. And thank you for the reminder to sit in my Father’s presence.

  16. Roxanne says:

    My son is 7 who also walks w a limp he has surgery for toe walking …. please pray for him. I know he’s right in Gods hands

    • Hi Roxanne, I’m praying for your sweet son right now.

      • Hi, I hope I’m blogging into this right. This article has helped me know I’m ok in ways but still have the pain of entrapment. I used to be so outgoing, many friends but I leaned on my mom. She has hidden her health conditions and since she will not release, I know she’s getting dementia. She’s doing ok however I’ve fallen into the lies and why’s. She’s not telling me anymore she loves me much nor cares how my day is or a hug when I see her. I have not been able to find a support group here to help. I’m now divorced and alone. However, the old friends I’ve known, I thought when I told them about my mom, they would be there for me, like I have for them. Wrong! Then I started saying ” what have I done wrong? Am I just not pretty enough or my hair looks right? If my mom is doing this, why are my friends?” What did u do wrong? Then the lies take off! My friends I guess choose to not go there or perhaps it’s God showing me who is real friends are. 😢 My mom in my past always said make sure your hair is perfect. I had good esteem but after seeing her act like she could careless what I do it hurts then seeing the old friends I had, not even ask how I’m doing with that? I’m still in shock but I’ve got to believe in faith of it’s going to be ok. I can’t believe I lost my friends over this and they know how or least in the past how spiritual I was. I guess this is the 1st time I’m alone in life and I wish I could find some women that understand what I’m saying or support to each other on feeling abanded. I know God is there and I pray and read a lot but I keep saying… ” if I was strong like others always said I was, why am I a whimp now or where are my friends?” Than I blame myself. I can’t help what my mom has but I feel I’m being punished by being alone on this journey by my ” old friends”
        Too like I read on a lady’s journal, I have friends on my FB they may pustvor not… I’m not real active on there but never if how are you or anything. I guess I feel I was used for their purposes and I grew up on the verse ” do unto others as you would want to be done upon on.”
        I hope someone understands this. My self esteem is low and that’s not something I carried around and I go back into the past, how well I was liked, etc.

        • Jennifer James says:

          Kelli, I hear your frustration and confusion in this post. Sometimes we believe things should be a certain way…people should be a certain way…we should be a certain way. The thing is, it is not going like you expected and you feel …victimized. I believe a support group, women’s group, or any type of scheduled gathering will help you connect. You have lost that connection with your mom, your friends, and my guess…others as well. You have the power inside you to be strong and courageous through this, but it won’t be through avoiding people or blaming them for who they’ are not. Instead of saying “they” or “you” begin with “I” because “I” is the only one you have the power to strengthen. Today, “I” will CHOOSE to do something to connect with someone. Today “I” will not rely on others to come to me, but I will go to them. Today, “I” will get up and live the life Hod wants me to live….NO EXCUSES! ❤️

  17. I was reading this devo dutifully this morning (part of my to-do list) and several words started springing off the page, which I did not expect. Thank you for being the vehicle by which God is getting my attention! I really needed to read this. Shared it with my husband, too. I copied down the verses and posted them around the kitchen and in my car (the two places I will spend the most time today) – something I always say I will do but never do. They will be good reminders for me to take a breath when I fall into the trap of my to-dos throughout the day and remember to Whom I belong. Praise God!

  18. I read these stories of women whose lives are too busy and who have to try hard to work less. My situation is the reverse. There are so many things that need to be done and I am not doing any of them; for example, cleaning the house, doing laundry, working in the yard. Even participating in church activities and outreach. These are things that need to be done and I am not doing any of them. I come home from work and the thought of doing any of these things just makes me tired and resentful. I do have a history of depression and am taking medication for that, but this doesn’t feel like depression – it feels like resentment and dissatisfaction. I am seeking the Lord’s will and direction for this problem, but I would appreciate having your thoughts.

    • I am EXACTLY the same way! It’s a kind of shame thing because woman are supposed to clean the house and take care of things. I am exhausted reading about these women who go-go-go. At least in my case I am divorced and the only child we had died 12 hours after he was born so there is no one to see how lazy I am. But I find that if I’m in The Word I do seem to do more. When I have a hard time staying in The Word I turn on Christian TV and I can’t help but hear The Word. Right now I’m back in the Bible and all the chores and errands and everything else are so much easier. I also have depression and was sexually abused. But lately I have mentally taken the shackles that were around my ankles and “see” them in my back pack of life. I can’t change it; I have to take them with me where ever I go. I don’t have a choice.

  19. Kasey Boone says:

    All I can say is thank you for helping me look into my own heart. To self-reflect and see that I am not letting myself be free of my burdens but continue to fall back into the “Victim” in my current circumstances. Thank you Lord for this devotional, your scriptures and for speaking to me through these words.

  20. I read that the Feast of Unleavened Bread (a.k.a., the Feast of Matzot which is a 7-day ‘holy walk’ beginning at sunset, the evening of Christ’s crucifixion and which forbids eating yeast, symbolic for “sin”, Exodus 12:17-19) forbid the use of any yeast, including the “old lump of yeast from the prior batch”. Just like “Friendship Bread” and other fermenting/yeast recipes which require some of the old, fermented batch in order to make the new batch, God forbids using the old (Historic “Sin”) during this week of focus on being sin-free. This practice helped to reinforce, during the 1-week ‘festival,’ that it is important NOT to focus on prior, forgiven sins but, rather, to REJOICE daily (1 Thessalonians 5:16) for God’s unbelievable Love and Gifts to each of us. Loving His Word… every day!

    Love your devotional. Thanks, Glynnis! Have a Wonder-Full week!

  21. Becky Eddy says:

    I, too, have felt the bondage of a busy schedule. Occasionally, God would clear my plate… only for me to fill it back up again. My schedule is lighter again and I can have a minute to breathe each day. The concern for myself now is that I find myself sitting idle and not filling the schedule with anything productive. It’s like I have no structure if I’m not packing the schedule to the gills. How can I enjoy the quiet stillness that He has created in my day without feeling guilty and still have the motivation to do some necessary things? I don’t even do any extra cleaning or projects that I’ve put off for years because the “I don’t have time” mindset. I need help understanding that it is ok to do somethings and I’d still have time to rest. It feels like a catch 22.

  22. Sandy Peterson says:

    Wow!!!! What a great message that is so close to home. Really a great eye opener for me. I had been dealing with heel spurs for a long time and still find myself limping without pain. I’m going to start putting it in my mind that I can walk again without doing any limping to see if the pain is completely gone. God Bless you for the encouragement of others.

  23. When I was a child I dealt with childhood sexual abuse, along with verbal and mental abuse as well. How do you shut the door on that kind of past?
    I had forgiven my dad for this, and even started to develop a relationship with him, which was difficult because for years there was none. He passed 4 years ago due to a hemoratic stroke. Before he passed I was trying to get him to go to the hospital for the stroke, and that was the one and only time I said that I loved him, it shocked even me.
    Even with that, I still have issues with the abuse, no self confidence due to the years of hearing that I would never amount to anything etc…
    How do you make something like this a thing from yesterday?

    • I have had these abuse as well. This is such a good question and thank you for asking. Look my forward to an answer

    • Vicky Nordeen says:

      It’s hard, but I have to remind myself that you can’t change other people. You can only pray for them, and place them in God’s hands. You can control you and your choices. I choose to parent in a loving way compared to how I was raised. I already see a difference in my children. They long for my love. They don’t fear me.

  24. I was letting sexual abuse from my past take me captive. i’m letting go of that. i know it’s all in God’s control. the things that hurt me with this subject are out of my control and i’m giving it to God. God spoke to me with this message. Thank you

  25. Nanelyn Mitchell says:

    Wow! What a powerful message. You are speaking truth, watering with living water and opening the curtain for maximum “sonshine”. Thank you! I shared this with my Celebrate Recovery group. Loved it. Powerful!

  26. This was the perfect message for me today, so thank-you so much for sharing and your great insight. For me, I’m a slave to my past behaviors and feel I can’t let go, but I can through Christ. Thanks again!

  27. Susan G. says:

    Thanks for this! Great truths here!
    Bless you!

  28. Thank you! Thanks for permission. To take 5 and for giving me a focus in my prayer. ❤️

  29. Rhonda Bolt says:

    Wow! I think this written just for me! I have been struggling with an empty nest and job loss so I have been feeling guilty for being home more and not being busy. I have spent the last 30 years teaching school and raising children every moment of my day’s have been busily filled with stuff to do. I am fine!! I guess I have been caught up in the worlds standards and fears and for what? God has met every need and is just showing me that I don’t have to be so busy I can slow down he actually wants me to. I still have plenty to do and I am just as valuable even if I am not constantly busy. Thank you for the Wisdom and the truth in today’s devotion it came just in time. So many new things to look forward too and to pray for! God Bless you!

  30. Vicky Nordeen says:

    I have to admit I used to ALWAYS be tired. I would yawn at 2:00. I used to need to take a nap before my serving job. In fact, I used to take a lot of naps. I always was tired. However, God intercepted in the path that I was taking, and I have to admit that ever since, I have had energy I can’t even describe. I used to pass out after putting the kids to bed. This could be 8 o’clock on a Friday night! Now, it seems I have turned into a nightime owl. I have energy to stay up and read! Knock on wood. So, there is a lot of truth to this…giving a lot of the things I cannot control to God…and He had broken several of my past chains. Should I also add that I am currently in a deep Valley called divorce and yet I have energy! I thank God everyday day for being my protector during this trial in my life.

  31. Pam Wissman says:

    Thank you for this meditation! Right on the money.
    I say a very loud and hopeful, “Amen!”

  32. What a good idea. I will try that right now. Been so busy all day and drove about 130 miles to my husbands uncle who is not doing so well from cancer. But we kept in prayer and give all to God. I will sit here and jusr breathe and feel his presence.

  33. Janice Alston says:

    Great article, I have had many health isdues in my life, cancer , diabetes, etc. and 3 broken relationships. Married once, that really lowered my self-esteem, he was very abuses and I struggled with relatiinships, and have really let it get me down a little. But. I have excepted what I have went through as a strength builder, I turn it all over to God, and asked him for guidance. My life has changed a lot. Thanks for this message tbat your article gave me hope. Thanks!!!

  34. Glynnis I loved this devotional. It made me think of an image of a chain locked onto my ankles. The chain may get longer and longer with time but I am still chained. I need to let God BREAK the chain not lengthen it. I may get farther away from my sin but I will still be chained to it. Thank you for this thought provoking piece. Gods blessings to you.

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you!

    • GRACE PEAY says:


      I try to remember that gods love is available to me every minute I have a choice I keep it simple god loves me this I know for the bible tells me so and pass it on

  36. I feel my smoking cigarettes has kept me in bondage I need prayer to be able to stop smoking I have stoped a few times before now it has a strong hold on me and I can’t put them down I have COPD

  37. Glynnis, Thank you for this. I know I’m reading it a few days late, but as God always has perfect timing, I’m reading it when I most need this reminder. This sentence right here hits home: Every time I’d make a change and lighten my schedule, it would feel unnatural. Everyone around me is always commenting on how amazed they are at all that I do and I know that I am crying on the inside that I don’t WANT to be doing so much. I DO feel in bondage. Your words remind me that I am free in Christ, and not chained to my schedule. I need to start living in that freedom and quit feeling guilty for wanting to break out of the over-busy bondage.

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