Monday, January 6, 2014

Glancing back . . .

 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....
(Philippians 3:12-13) 

Do you make resolutions each new year? Do you resolve to do better on your diet, your relationships, and your walk with God? 
As we begin 2014, I'd like to look first at Paul's words to us in Philippians; we'll get back to John's gospel later this week. 

I'd like to focus on the last portion of that passage up there -- Paul is telling us that there are two ways we should handle things. And those two ways depend on whether they are behind us or in front of us!

We should forget those things that are behind. He wasn’t talking about people; he was talking about certain events in our lives. To make progress in the future we can’t linger too long in the past.There may be some bad things in our past that have never paid for and may never be paid, cleaned up, cleared up, or straightened out, but still we must go forward. We must forget about them and get on with our lives.

If a person can reconcile some things in their past, then so be it, but it can’t always be done. Sometimes we can't go back to those past things; sometimes the people affected won't accept our apologies. Consequently, we just have to pray for forgiveness, leave it with God, forget about it and get on with living.

We all recognize that bad things hinder us in the future and we must put them behind. We must also recognize that even good things in the past could hinder us. Yes, let's think about that . . .

If we think about those things too long, dwell there, stay there and wish for them to return, we will be no good for the present and the future. We'll be "resting on our laurels" as they say!
As we look back over 2013, or even over the years before that, let's thank God for His mercy, which forgives our bad past, big or small. And at the same time, let's thank God for His grace, which enabled us to do good things in the past. We definitely should praise Him because He is the author of those good things, but we shouldn't stay there too long or we won’t do any good in the present!

We are special beings in that God has given us the ability to remember. Our memories may be our friends or our enemies. When we remember, hopefully we’ll remember some very pleasant things about this past year, but chances are that we'll also remember some negative things.

In fact, sometimes we dwell upon the negative and begin to feel sorry for ourselves. Maybe this past year was a time of transition; perhaps the kids grew up and left home, and now there's an empty nest.
Maybe this past year was when employment stopped; maybe it's really tough making ends meet. Maybe a loved one died, and grief and loneliness is lingering. Or maybe this past year was a time that sin got a real hold in our life, and now we are facing 2014 with a boatload of guilt. All of those things can cripple us if we allow them to.

I believe that is why Paul said "forgetting what is behind." You know, Paul had much to forget, himself. He persecuted the church, and used his position and authority to even kill Christians. No wonder he said, "I am the chief of sinners." (I Tim. 1:15)

That is why I titled this post "Glancing back" instead of "looking" or "examining" or "spending a lot of time thinking about the past." Paul could have walked around all of his life with a huge burden of guilt that crippled his efforts and he would never have been the tremendous apostle that he was.

But Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind…" In other words, "God, I commit it to you. I seek your forgiveness for all the sins of the past, and I look forward to what lies ahead. And right now I’m going to live today the best I can."

As you glance back, don't wallow in the mistakes. Don't glory in the triumphs. Just glance back, and commit it to God. Start gazing, looking, seeking what lies ahead . . . 


Belinda said...

This is something that I try to do regardless of the time of year. I am known for saying, "I'm gonna pull a Scarlett O'hara and think about that tomorrow." What I mean is that I refuse to dwell on it. When the negative memories come, I tell God I don't want to think about them, and He helps me push them away. The devil is the one who brings up past failures and hurts.

When I was younger, I would live for the future. When we had more money, when we did this or that, I would have what I needed to be happy. Now I strive to live in the present and be content. It's HARD!!

Yesterday's sermon at church was just because you are up in years, you aren't necessarily wise. Even though you SHOULD be. We are to number our days, meaning learn from each one of them as they tell us something, use that something, and share it in the hear and now. Share it in the future, but don't live in there.

Great post! Glad to have you back, I've missed you. :)

Carrie P. said...

great post.
just recently I have been hurt by a family member. I was continuing to look back and wonder why. Yesterday in church I forgave that person and prayed for her. Now I can move on and not worry about what was in the past.
thanks for sharing.

Austin Towers said...

Last year has not been easy. For the mistakes we make and the things that happen to us it is very tempting to dwell on them. Sometimes there is even a comfort in it! You are right and so is Paul ;) glancing back only, we must move on. Thanks Jacque and Happy New Year x