Do you feel guilty? Have you done a lot of stuff you're not proud of? Hurt a lot of people? Broke a lot of laws? Do you think you have done too many bad things for God to forgive you or make your life right?
Let me tell you the story of Manny.
Manny had a privileged upbringing. His dad was a very rich big shot, the boss of a clan with lots of clout. His dad was also a good guy who was religious and well liked. Manny, not so much.
Manny became clan boss when he was just 12 years old and right from the start he worked as hard as he could to undo all the good his dad had done. He destroyed everything his dad had treasured and wasted his wealth. He was mean and cruel as a leader and went in for voodoo and the dark arts in a big way. They say he murdered so many innocent people that the whole city ran red with blood. He even killed his own kids - deliberately!
You would think this guy was totally unredeemable. Sounds like a Pol Pot or Stalin. But his story wasn't over yet.
Manny's enemies attacked his clan, destroyed his 'hood, took all his gold and money, killed his mates and dragged him off as a prisoner. And while Manny was being held captive he had a lot of time to think about the havoc he had wreaked and the mess his life was in. He remembered his dad and how different the outcomes were for him because he was a religious man who did the things the priests told him God approved of.
Manny cried out to the God of his father, admitted what a mess he had made of things, and asked God to help him fix it.
In the course of time Manny's enemies let him go and he returned to his clan and started doing things right. He got rid of all his occult paraphernalia, rebuilt his neighborhood and started treating people fairly and doing what the priests told him. He became a totally different person and a deeply religious man.
He died with dignity, was buried with honors and is now in heaven with the God who forgave him.
Manny's story is in the Bible (2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33). He was King Manasseh, and although he is mostly remembered as one of the most wicked kings of Judah, God doesn't remember his sins any more because Manasseh humbled himself and repented (asked for forgiveness and turned away from his sins).
You see it is not about all the awful, stupid things you have done in your past, or the mess your life is currently in; it is about what you do from here on in and how you finish the race. It is never too late to make a fresh start. You may not be able to make everything right or fix all your poor choices, but God is able to redeem what is left and to bring beauty out of ashes.
If God can turn Manny's life around, I know He can make something of yours.•