We often look back on memories of our past.
We may re-live our positive memories with fondness and perhaps long for those days. The negative experiences, on the other hand, can take a more disturbing residence in our minds. Like a loop tape, they play over in our minds to the point of wishing we could change a certain time span, as you see in sci-fi movies. Or they are buried deep into our memory bank and we throw away the key. A simple moment may have changed the direction of our lives.
As far as negative experiences in our past, I have heard it said, “Your past does not dictate your future.” In other words, whatever happened in your past that was negative should not dictate the ability to live the rest of life with hope and promise. Yet, many people use heartache from their past to excuse their actions, saying it’s not their fault that they act a certain way.
It’s true that some people have experienced horrific pasts and need Jesus to enter their lives and perhaps go through counseling. But I am saying that God CAN use any hard situation to prosper us and those around us. HE has a way of turning things around. In fact, II Corinthians 1:3 states that God will comfort us in our trouble SO THAT we can comfort others when they experience trouble and pain.
Regardless, we are to ALWAYS move forward.
Remembering the negative past is for the purpose of reminding us of God’s mercy AND to help those who are stuck in their past. We can; however, learn from the past.
Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
So, we can LEARN from our past, BUT we should not camp there. We must MOVE forward. If we choose to live in our past –we will not grow into what we were meant to become.
In Exodus 16, the children of Israel, who wandered the desert for 40 years were told that manna, bread from heaven, would fall onto the ground every morning. There would be enough for that day. But what they did not use (except when they were to bake it for the 7th day) they were to throw out. If they didn’t it would breed worms and rot. We do not want to live off yesterday’s memories or experiences, good or bad.
I think there is more to that concept than we realize.
Even the Lord said that his mercies are NEW every morning. (Leviticus 3)
Paul shared his past in Acts 22 by talking about his background. He described how he was driven to kill those who preached the gospel. He continued by describing his transformation when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Since then he only pressed forward. He knew where he came from but did not stay there. The negative in his life was used only to show the power of God’s ability to change lives. He moved forward. He even stated in Philippians 3:13,14 (GWT):
“Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I DON’T LOOK BACK, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.”
At the end of his life he said,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
We will not finish the race by stopping and taking a break and just chilling. And we definitely will not finish it by turning around and going back to the starting line. So we can’t finish the race by looking behind us and wishing our past was different or listening to the voices that say, “Just quit. Your life was broken from the beginning anyway. Why try?”
Even if an athlete falls in a race, he gets up and runs harder.
Often the children of Israel complained to Moses while in the desert. They wanted to return to Egypt because it seemed easier the way things used to be, even if they were slaves before. They didn’t want to walk forward through hardships to get to the promised land. They were content with slavery.
How about you? Do you want to remain a slave to the things of this world instead of pressing forward?
What happened to Lot’s wife when she turned to look at Sodom and Gomorrah burning in the flames of God’s judgement? She turned into a pillar of salt. I often wonder why she turned to look back, especially after she was warned not to. Was it curiosity? Was it rebellion? Was it one last look at what she was leaving behind? Whatever her reason may have been, looking back had its consequences.
There is something about moving forward that the Lord wants to impress into our spirits.
“Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
The Lord wants to encourage us to go forward. It is so easy at times to simply sit back and get comfy or obsess with the past.
But there is joy at the finish line if we do not give up.
(Jesus) saw the JOY AHEAD of him, so endured the death of the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Hebrews 12:2a (GWT)
He saw what was at the finish line and it filled him with joy and gave him the determination to go forward.
If we could really see with 20/20 vision, as many are stating in 2020, we could see that God IS for us. We could see that the suffering of this age is NOTHING compared to the glorious life that is in front of us. THAT is why he wants us to move FORWARD. There is so much more at the finish line.
THERE IS MORE THAN WE CAN IMAGINE IN FRONT OF US!
Do not look behind you with longing. Do not look behind you with regret. Do not look behind you with defeat. The things in the past will not satisfy anymore. Press forward.
Our tomorrows with the LORD will be greater than we have ever imagined. What does God have to say about going forward?
“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a hope and a FUTURE.” Jeremiah 29:11
Keep your eyes focused on the author and finisher of your faith as you continue to move forward. Press on.