It’s tempting to spend time thinking about the past. Many of us have great memories of family and friends. Experiences that bring smiles to our faces. Accolades that make us straighten a little, feeling a sense of accomplishment at something that we were able to carry out.
We also have things that were painful, from childhood disease to death, and a variety of things in between. Things we did so poorly we are embarrassed. Things we said that sounded terrible, actions we took that hurt not only ourselves but hurt others as well.
It would be nice to think that the hard things were all before we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and not to happen again. But, in being honest, we have to admit we do not act in any way near perfection, and the opportunity to both experience, and create pain for others, is still there.
Sometimes, even when we don’t acknowledge it, the things from the past, both good and bad, have taken us to a place where our current lives are so controlled by what went before, and we live in the past and can’t live life today in the fullness the Lord desires us to live.
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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.-Philippians 3:13-14
I have been guilty of living in the past. Doing and not doing things in order to protect me from repeating difficult events. Thinking too much on all that was good in the past. Allowing the past to control not only my today, but also my future. It is so easy to go from one extreme to the next. Totally blocking out the past, or reliving it over and over again in our minds. Neither one is productive.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.–Isaiah 43:18-19
I love the above verse in Isaiah. ‘Do not dwell on the past.’ We learn from the past. But dwelling on the past is not fully acknowledging God and His plan in our lives. He makes a way for us through the darkest, craziest wilderness, and provides new and fresh things on this journey with Him, to Him.
I am not going to say I have forgotten the former things that brought me joy, nor those that hurt me or embarrassed me. I’ve not forgotten the things that I did to others that were unkind and hurtful. But I have repented, given those things to the Lord, relinquished control over them, and discovered that they don’t have the power over me they used to. Life is not easy. Being a believer and committed to living the life God has ordained for me, is not easy. I can’t expect it to be. I will sin, I will make mistakes, I will say and do stupid things when the flesh battles against the spirit. And because I love the Lord, because I desire to be obedient to what scripture teaches me, I will repent.
I live fully and abundantly today because I know what my goal is, I know where my strength originates, I know the Lord is my foundation, and I know that home is not here on this earth, but with Him, forever. My eyes are on the future, living today fully, leaving the past in the past.
Next blog: Change of Scenery