Philippians 1:13-14 – “but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead; I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
If anyone had reason to be unable to let go of his past, it was Paul. He persecuted the church, had many believers killed and even held the coats of those who stoned Stephen! But then, his life abruptly and miraculously changed when he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Did he regret the terrible things he had done against Christ and His church? I suspect so. But as of this moment in his life, Paul is commissioned by Jesus to be His chosen instrument to bear His name before the Gentiles.
And if we truly want to answer Christ’s call to love Him, to obey Him and to carry out whatever assignment He might give us, we are to do the same.
I have many regrets concerning my past; but I now CHOOSE to remember that Jesus Christ went to the cross for all my sins, not just some of them. What good am I to Him if I wallow in self-pity instead of rising up in His strength, carrying out His commission? Isaiah 6:5-8, addresses these doubts and uncertainties perfectly:
“Then I said, “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies. ”Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin. ”Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
The following speaks of things I have learned in my quest to move forward in spite of my past:
First, make your relationship with Jesus THE priority in your life. Bring any cares and uncertainties to His throne of grace:
Hebrews 4:16 – “Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.”
Second, it is perfectly fine to make future plans but hold them loosely, allowing God to make any changes He deems necessary. Our plans must always be in submission to His good, pleasing and perfect will:
James 4:15 – “Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
1 Peter 5:6-7 – “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you.”
Third, no worry or forecasting! I have found that a large amount of my worries are not about today, or even tomorrow, but way into the future. What a waste of time – and even worse, what a lack of faith! The perfect prescription is Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Fourth, live your life with anticipation, EXPECTING to see God in not only your big “aha” moments, but also in the ordinary, seemingly mundane ways of life! Those mountaintop moments when God does the impossible are indeed SPECTACULAR! But the ones that really get me are the “little” yet AMAZING things that can happen in the midst of an ordinary day – that unexpected phone call from a caring friend, just when you need it most; an invite to coffee when a break from the events of life is what can turn your day around; a chance to reconnect with a distant friend, who “happens” to have some much needed advice – these out of the blue reminders of how much God loves you and of how very much He treasures you.
To me, all four of these components of a life lived day by day in God’s presence describe perfectly Jesus’ words to us in John 10:10 – “I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.”
Don’t let your past rob you of the exciting, exhilarating and joyful life Jesus has planned for you as His disciple. Ture, there will be challenges and heartaches in our earthly pilgrimage. But as we live day by day keeping our eyes on Him, our life becomes an incredible adventure, as well as a shinning example of a life surrendered to His will and purpose. And perhaps most importantly, living this life fulfills Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:16 – “Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Pressing on with you,