“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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 3:12-14
Are you bogged down, trudging through the muck and sludge of the past? Are you stuck there unable to lift yourself out? Do you struggle against its weight with all your might in a constant tug of war? Are you searching for a lifeline to grasp onto and pull you out of the pit once and for all?
Sometimes its easy to dwell on the past. It stands behind us almost as if it’s etched in concrete. It cannot be changed. When we look back, we sometimes see reminders of regrets, past mistakes, hurt and pain. At other times we see reminders of happier times when life seemed more simple and full of promise. God can be your lifeline. He will throw you a rope and even come down and help lift you up out of the pit.
God is our real life superhero. In comic books, we see superheroes with awesome powers who making daring attempts to save someone in distress. They come in dramatically with a grand entrance and quickly save the day. Do you know that God is all-powerful (omnipotent)? “O Sovereign Lord! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power. Nothing is too hard for You!” (Jeremiah 32:17) God understands where you are at right now and He is there beside you. He has personally walked down the road with you. God is ever-present (omnipresent). “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-9) God has seen and knows your past, but He also sees and knows your present situation as well as your future. God is all-knowing (omniscient). He even formed the world and knows the precise moment when it will end! He presides over it and controls what happens to His creation. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13) We can count on God, our real superhero, to use his supernatural abilities to pull us out of the past and set us firmly in the present.
When we become Christians, we are given a new start. God calls us “new creations,” much like bullfrogs and butterflies. (As the song goes…they have both been born again!) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) God does not want us to dwell on the past but instead to take hold of the opportunities before us. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) We do not need to feel guilty about the past because any sins committed have already been nailed to the cross and erased forever. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ‘I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.'” (Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25). God doesn’t sit there and point out our past mistakes and neither should we. He knows we are human. Simply because of an outpouring of love for humanity, He has already forgiven ALL of the mistakes we will ever make in our lifetimes!
We need to look towards Jesus who will guide our future. We need to unshackle ourselves from the chains that have bound us to our past. We need to be focused on what is before us instead of behind us. Not looking right or left, we look only unto Jesus. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We need to let the Holy Spirit transform us and renew us into the image of Christ. This will not happen instantaneously or overnight. In fact, it takes a lifetime. Billy Graham once said, “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” We can begin by letting Him work in us one day at a time. He will daily guide us into His good, pleasing and perfect will. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2) God has already prepared the way for us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) As Horace once said, “Carpe diem!” Let us seize the day! Do not let the past control you any longer. Today is YOUR day! What choices will you decide upon?
When the going gets tough, we must not give up. Sometimes we wish to quit climbing the hill of trials and tribulation in this life right when we’re approaching the downward slope. We miss out on God’s blessings and opportunities for spiritual growth when we don’t ascend all of the way. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, tortured, left for dead, with his life always on the line wherever he went. What did he have to say about his experiences? “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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 3:12-14) We can have hope because of Jesus and a goal to achieve: the prize of heaven. All treasures and prizes here on Earth will not last. They will get dusty and rusty and eventually be destroyed. They are temporary. The prize of heaven is eternal life, never to be separated from God! Think about that for a moment. This is prize far greater than anything mankind has to offer. This offer will always stand the test of time. God never pulls back from his promises. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) Luke 12:34 reminds us that where our treasure is found, our heart will also be found. So, lace up your running shoes and let’s get going! Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. What are you waiting for?
A well-known children’s song says:
“Heaven is a wonderful place.
Filled with glory and grace.
I’m going to see my savior’s face
‘Cause heaven is a wonderful place.
I WANT TO GO THERE!”
Pray this Prayer: Thank you Lord that I do not have to feel guilt or shame over my past. Thank you that Jesus died on the cross, my sins have been forgiven and erased, and I am heaven bound to live with you forever. Please help me to put my past behind me where it belongs and strive towards what is ahead, looking only unto You. Please guide my steps each day and lead me into a glorious future. Amen!