Own Your Experiences
by Rick Warren
“Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him.” (Deuteronomy 11:2 TEV)
You must embrace the experiences of your life — the good ones, the bad ones, the shameful ones, the right ones, the wrong ones, the happy, and the sad ones — and stop running from your past if God’s going to use it for good in your life.
Galatians 3:4 says, “Were all your experiences wasted? I hope not” (NCV). Don’t run away from your past. Because of pain, many people deny their past, ignore their past, discount their past, regret their past, or resent their past. They revise their past and make up stories because they’re happier dealing with the lie than the pain of the past. But if you’re in denial, God can’t use your experience for good.
God can use every experience in your life for good, but you’ve got to stop running from them. You have to embrace your experiences. Maybe your parents weren’t that great, maybe you weren’t that hot in school, maybe you weren’t the football captain or the prom queen — so what? They’re your experiences. Own them.
Stop pushing the bad experiences out of your mind. You’ve got to remember them. Deuteronomy 11:2 says, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him” (TEV).
That verse is saying that the important thing is to remember the lessons. How do you do that? The best way to remember the lessons and experiences of your life is to keep a journal. I’m not talking about a diary. A diary is a list of what you did: “Today I went to the store and bought milk.” You don’t necessarily write in a journal every day. But every time you have an important lesson, you write it down so you won’t forget it: “That was painful. I learned that the hard way. I don’t want to forget that.”
To remember what you’ve learned about God, you need to keep a journal. Then, you can look back and remember what God taught you so you can be encouraged in the dark times of your life and know that God is still working for your good.
Talk It Over
• Is it important to you to remember God’s faithfulness and answered prayer? What do you do to help you remember?
• If you are “not a writer,” what are some ways you can keep a record of God’s lessons besides paper and pen?
Your Destiny, Your Choice
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
Your life isn’t an accident. You have a destiny, one that only you can complete. The Bible says, “All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old” (Psalm 139:16 NCV).
God knows everything that’ll happen in your life. He’s not surprised by anything. And he knows your days have a destiny. We all get about 80 years, the Bible says. In the scheme of eternity, those 80 years are insignificant. So the Bible says this life is preparation for the next. God wants you to practice on Earth what you’ll do forever in eternity.
And he has given you a destiny — something to do in this life, something only you can do. Before you were born, God wired you with certain ambitions, desires, and drives to play a particular role in history — one that only you can play.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT). Before you were born, God gave you a unique mixture of spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality, and experiences. There’s no one like you in the entire universe because, in part, there’s no one with your unique mix of talents. It’s why your destiny is so unique. It’s your destiny. Not your mother’s, not your father’s, not your pastor’s. It’s your destiny.
But here’s the painful part: You can miss God’s destiny for your life. People do it all the time. In fact, you can go through your entire life and miss God’s purpose for your life — by your own choices. If you choose to chase pleasure, popularity, or money instead of God, you’ll miss it. And that’s tragic.
God’s will is not automatic. He allows us to make choices. Many of the things that happen to you are not God’s perfect will. We all have to choose between God’s will and our will. We often choose our will.
If I got drunk, fell in a pool, and drowned, that wouldn’t be God’s will for my life. It would be my own stupid decision. God has a destiny for your life, but he won’t force it on you.
But you can have God’s will for your life. Even when you mess up, God can turn disaster into destiny. It’s never too late to have his perfect will in your life. Just pray, “God, I want your purpose for my life,” and you won’t miss it — no matter where you’ve been. He’ll get you in line with his purpose. He wants you to fulfill your destiny more than you do!
It’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s will is done perfectly in Heaven. He wants it done perfectly in your life, too.
But your destiny is your choice.
Talk It Over
What are some of the unique talents and experiences God has given you to use?
What gets in the way of you fulfilling God’s destiny for your life?