June 15, 2022

Stop Looking Back At The Past

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

“As long as the present is at war with the past,” said Winston Churchill at the conclusion of World War 2, “there is no hope for the future!”  The connection between the present and the past is something like the force of heredity.  It’s there, but it can’t always get you where you want to go.  Writing to the Philippians, Paul stressed the importance of forgetting the past and focusing on the future.  He wrote, “Brothers, 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Trying to drive by looking into your rear-view mirror is always a risky business.  You may be focused but your field of vision is so limited.  You’re apt to back over curbs or plow into objects you had no idea were out there.

“One of the reasons God doesn’t like rear-view mirrors,” writes Mike Fabarez, “is because He knows that we are good at beating ourselves up with past failures. It’s not that we really didn’t fail. It’s not that there wasn’t damage done. It’s not even that there is no debt incurred. We did and there was. The problem is that when we dwell on our past sin and when we beat ourselves up with our failures we usually believe that in some way we are making amends for them. Basking in our guilt, we think, is our ‘payment’ for our mistake.”

He’s right, you know. When a person has nothing in his or her past which troubles the sleep on dark nights, either one of three things is true: 1. the person is a liar, 2. He or she suffers from acute amnesia, or 3. the individual has found the grace of God which brings forgiveness and changes a life entirely.  It is this which enables a person to go through life without fearing that the past will catch up with him, always glancing in the rear-view mirror of life wondering what back there is about to pounce.

Scripture sys God had Christ be sin on our behalf so that we might be made the righteous of God.  It’s a strange exchange, motivated by the love and care of Father God; but it’s true.  That means that what happened in the past, the focus of the rear-view mirror of your life, ceases to exist in the mind of God, who has forgiven you.  It’s only there as a specter in your mind, a ghost to haunt you.

This fact, of course, is predicated on your willingness to confess that wrong from the past and to accept the promise of the Father that He will forgive you and put the wrong forever out of His mind.

What does it take for you to understand that God has forgiven you?  Tough question.  Some people are never convinced in spite of the fact that they personally have the word of Him who created the heavens and the earth.  Some way they tend to think that they are not good enough, or that the promises don’t extend to them.  The Good News is that God is no respecter of persons.  The promises of His Word clear the record, allowing you to forget the past and focus on the future, reaching forth for the wonderful things which God has provided.

If you were to answer the question, “Would God lie?” you would probably say, “Not at all!”  Then why not accept what He says about your life and get on with it? Forget the rear-view mirror and get on with road that lies ahead.

Resource reading: Philippians 3:1-14