• Jill Jarrell Newsome

Cigarettes and Sunglasses

There are pictures of me as young as three and on up, wearing sunglasses and "smoking cigarettes" while "driving" my mom's car. I would spend hours in our carport, sitting in my mom's car, driving with my sunglasses on and my rolled up piece of paper to mimic a cigarette. For years all I wanted to do was drive and smoke cigarettes. Understand that I did not "drive" without sunglasses on! I remember going to Newell's at Wrightsville Beach and using my money in the "trick" section. They had "spilled" milk, fake bugs, etc. I would buy the cigarette that looked like it was really lit with "ashes" on the end. I loved that thingI At 7-11 I could buy the candy cigarettes that had one "puff of smoke" when you opened it!

When I see those pictures I always think of Mom saying that she knew I would always drive and smoke. I did try smoking and it was not for me. I do not know why I was so fascinated with smoking but I loved seeing the women on tv tap the cigarette to make the ashes fall off. I had a relative who smoked and I remember just watching her. Then it was "glamorous" for women to smoke on television and in magazines.

I sure am glad God had bigger plans for me than to drive and smoke! 1 Timothy 1: 15-17, "This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.  To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God—to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen. I think of some of the things I have done and I understand how Timothy thought he was one of the worst sinners. I remember being down on myself. Ashamed. Guilty.

In the Bible, King David did some pretty bad things, including adultery and murder. When King David had to confront his sin, he confessed to God with a broken heart. Psalm 51: 3-4,

"For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge." David tells us what happened when he held on to his guilt and shame. Psalm 32: 3-4, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."

Peter was guilt ridden from his failures. But Jesus removed the shroud of shame hanging from Peter and called him back into ministry! Do not let the enemy accuse us of what God has already forgiven! Jesus' death on the cross WAS ENOUGH! It was enough to heal even the deepest wounds! Philippians 3: 12-13, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,..." Letting go of the past and letting go of the shame and holding on to grace is where it all begins! This is when we can experience life to the fullest and increase our faith!

The Scriptures are full of stories of people who messed up and carried their guilt and shame around with them. Then they would cry out to God from a broken heart and then they were healed and restored. Psalm 34: 18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." If we are carrying around guilt and shame we need to tell God that we need His forgiveness. 1 John 1: 9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Remember He does not say He will forgive some of our sins. He says He will forgive ALL unrighteousness.

God has so many wonderful things planned for your life. Make sure you are looking to the future and not back to the past. Jeremiah 29: 11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Are you living your best life?