Here are four great ways to put your past behind you.
Forgetting What’s Behind
Paul writes to the church at Philippi “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13). If a person is straining forward, they are not as much concerned with what’s behind them. Someone who is pressing ahead or straining “to what lies ahead” has no time to be looking backward. No one drives a car safely when they are obsessed with looking in the rear view mirror. In fact, if someone is paying too much attention to what’s behind them, they might neglect what’s in front of them…and to their hurt.
Focus on the Goal
Paul continues the thought he began with in Philippians 3:13 by writing “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi 3:14). If we are living today with the end in mind, and that is “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” we’ll have little time to think about yesterday. I have many things that I regretted doing but don’t be living with regret about yesterday because you’ll regret doing that today when tomorrow comes. What a waste of energy trying to worry about those things that we cannot change. I know…I’ve done it!
The Past is Unchangeable
I’ve learned that you can’t unscramble an egg, so if we are focused on the past, it doesn’t help us. Besides, how can we possibly change what has already been done? The fact is that we cannot but if we focus on the present and our priority of seeking His kingdom first and foremost (Matt 6:33) then tomorrow we can look back at today and change what was our past. In other words, we can only change the past by making Christ, His glory, and His kingdom our priority today because then tomorrow, looking back, our past will have been more productive for God. Why worry about changing what can never be changed and why not spend that energy on today. Today is a gift…and that’s why they call it the present!
All Things Work for the Good
One of the greatest verses in the Bible is really a promise from God and it’s found in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It doesn’t say that all things are good and that only good things will work out for our good but “all things” meaning our past mistakes. In fact, I have learned more from my mistakes than I ever did when I did things the right way. Use the past to teach you about the future and trust God that everything that has happened has happened for a purpose but not simply our purpose but “according to His purpose.” I’m good with that.
Life is a journey so try to not look back except to take in what you’ve learned for the purpose of using it today. Focus on Christ and the Kingdom for His glory. Don’t worry about something that you cannot change. Know that all things, good and bad, will work out perfectly for God’s purpose and that’s all that really matters.
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
Image source: CC BY Scott Wylie
modifications: text added, cropped