So you may not know that between the time that the Apostle Paul, who was formerly known as Saul, was converted by Jesus and the time that he wrote his first letter was approximately 14 years. I wonder how many of those 14 years were spent struggling to overcome who he had been and what he had done because Paul during this time period was the greatest persecutor of the church immediately following the start of the new church.
If you don’t know the story, he was on his way to the city called Damascus. He was traveling with a group of people and he had written permission to persecute and imprison the Christians and the story says as he was going, he was breathing threats and murder. I mean, he was furious! Then, essentially Jesus shows up, knocks him off his high horse as he goes face down and becomes a believer in Jesus. But 14 years go by before he is prepared to begin his preaching and traveling ministry and he wrote this to the church.
To the Corinthians, he wrote: “for I am the least of the Apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God, but by the grace of God, I am what I am. And his grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:9-11) Paul allowed himself to just sit in his shame in the same way that we sit and say “woe is me and I, God can’t use me because I’m too much of a mess” and so on. However, this is a word to people like you and me who have a past that we’re not necessarily proud of. You can either continue to agonize over it and replay it for the rest of your life or you can allow God’s grace to take effect.
Listen, you are perfectly equipped and trained to minister to the people who are doing what you did that you’re so ashamed of. There’s no one better or more qualified for that than you. So don’t let God’s grace in your life be without effect, and allow your point of greatest pain or your point of greatest shame, to become your point of greatest influence.