I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
- Philippians 3:12-14
How many times we have allowed our past to dictate our future? We hear people say things like:
I’m just like my dad.
It’s too late.
I’m too old.
I can’t get anything right.
Paul was trying to teach us something important. Paul persecuted Christians. Not only did he have to deal with his own shame of his past, but he had to deal with the words of people around him. They knew who he was. They knew what he did.
But Paul did not allow those things to keep him from pressing forward. The Hebrew word for “press on” is Dioko, which means “I pursue.” To pursue is to proceed along the course of, or to follow. This means whatever it is, it is in front of you. Paul did not allow the mistakes and humiliations of his past keep him from doing what was ahead.
When our thoughts are constantly going to a time or place somewhere in the past, it’s hard to see the moment that’s in front of us right now. Our vision can become distorted.
But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43: 18-19
He said forget all that! Behold, He is about to do something new! And when we are in a dry season, he creates rivers! When you hold on to all these things from the past, you leave no room for God to deposit something new into your hands.
Elijah ran, Jonah hid, David feared, Thomas doubted, Peter denied, Paul persecuted. But they all chose not to stay in that place of stumbling. They put their hope and trust in God and moved forward, sometimes doing it afraid, but still going forward.
Take it to prayer.
Father, we know that your Word is good, your Word is for us, and it is for today. Your Word tells us that we can let go of regrets, past mistakes, missed opportunities, grievances, disappointments, bad decisions, failed attempts or fear of failure. Father, we ask you to help us move forward, help us to stop tripping over things from our past. Open our eyes to see the new opportunities that come to us through you. Give us the strength to leave the things behind that need to stay there, and to only lean on them for wisdom when we need it for the present. Help us to leave things at the cross that we never need to pick up again. Help us to approach the future with open hands, ready to receive everything you have for us. We ask you for strength, and courage, and boldness to move forward with eager anticipation. Thank you for Father for your unconditional love and your goodness towards us. In Jesus’ name. Amen