Forgetting The Past
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | 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… Philippians 3:13-14
Someone once said, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!” A bit philosophical, yes! But it takes little imagination to realize that 1984 has faded into the oblivion of history, and that George Orwell’s 1984 didn’t happen; yet facing the future is cause for concern apart from the fact that nothing shall happen in our world apart from the knowledge of our Heavenly Father. No one sleeps any better realizing that nuclear power exists in our world which equates to 35 tons of TNT for every man, woman, boy and girl alive today. If you ever had a single little Chinese firecracker go off in your hand, you have a greater appreciation of what I just shared.
I awakened this morning thinking about some advice that Paul gave long ago–good advice as we ponder a new year. He wrote to the Philippians, “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). A paraphrase puts it, “I am still not all I should be but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing…” Then Paul mentions three important guidelines: #1: A wise forgetfulness of the past—“forgetting what is behind.” #2: Priorities for the present. That idea is found in these words, “straining toward what is ahead,” and #3: An alignment of his goals and ambitions with the will of God—“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Friend, you can identify with His words, “I am still not all that I should be…”? Chances are that this past year ended with more than a few loose ends hanging—things you wanted to get done but didn’t, projects that are unfinished which have to be transferred to the inventory of this year’s load. But then Paul gives us guidelines on how to accomplish what needs to be done.
In the two minutes that remain, ponder that phrase, “forgetting what is behind.” Why not dwell on the past? Because it’s a closed chapter. Like water poured out on sand, you can’t recall a single day. It’s gone, and you have to turn loose of it if you can grasp the future which is yet before you. You can no more change the past than you can unscramble scrambled eggs. Let it go. If you failed, it’s best to forget it. If you succeeded, you did so because someone reached out to give you the toe-hold you needed to get up the ladder. But in the final analysis, if you succeeded yesterday, it was because God blessed you. You need to forget yesterday because it doesn’t guarantee success tomorrow, or even today.
Forget the heartaches of yesterday, the losses which came your way, the defeats which ensnared you and the sorrows that broke your heart. Forget your good intentions and unfulfilled ambitions, but don’t forget them so soon that you fail to profit from their mistakes. But having taken this step, you must go on. That’s why Paul quickly adds, “…straining toward what is ahead.” His concern here isn’t the future, it is prioritizing the need at hand in the light of God’s direction.
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. It is also the only part of eternity which you can claim because it is the only day which you can do something about. It’s yours to use or abuse, but it can never be recaptured once it’s gone.
Resource reading: Philippians 3.