Philippians 3:13-14 (TLB)
No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
The past is quite haunting for me. Today is the four year anniversary of our son’s diagnosis, it is a difficult day. Our son is healed. He has been in remission for over a year now which is a miracle in the medical community. Yes, we celebrate his life every day as we do our other four children. I am blessed. However, I would not be honest if I did not admit with total transparency that the healing from this awful ordeal is only beginning in this mother’s heart. The danger has past and now one must deal with the aftermath of shattered expectation. In the midst of the fight, there is not time to deal with the emotional traumas of the fight. You must keep your eyes and heart centered on Jesus and at full attention. Now in the quiet rest and thoughtful peace given by the Lord, the wounds of this battle are evident in my spirit, heart and soul. This is not how I expected our life to be.
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead is my daily goal and aspiration. I do not want to live in fear of the next test or trial that may come. The truth is that this one took everything I had leaving me in total weakness. The Lord is good. He is with me. He knows my feeble heart and loves me just the same. I am not a warrior. I am a weakling who has come to fully rely on God’s Love, Grace and Mercy to get through each day. The problem that I face is just what this verse implies. Forgetting the past. I cannot forget. I am afraid to forget. I do not know what lies ahead, but feel the need to watch over my shoulder just in case it is coming back. This is not God-thing but a-me problem I am desperate to fix. I want to fix my eyes on what’s ahead with eager expectation for total fulfillment from the Lord just as He promised. He is patient. He is loving. He is kind. He waits for me as I grope and feel my way to Him. I concur that I am not all I should be and in many ways feel I have farther to go. But today, I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
Luke 9:60-62 (TLB)
Jesus replied, “Let those without eternal life concern themselves with things like that. Your duty is to come and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God to all the world.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will come, but first let me ask permission of those at home.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
This same verse in the New Living Translation Bible says, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” I understood this implicitly when the only thing in my past was my old life and sinful disposition. You cannot move ahead with God when you want or desire the way things used to be. I completely get that… but what about when you fought the battle and won only to discover you are not the same person who you once were? I am not the same. I thought I would be after this whole ordeal ended. It has ended. But I am not the same. There was no normal life to return to.
This verse has a new perspective and different meaning now than ever before. I barely survived (in my own mind) last time will I be ready for the next big test. When my faith is tested will it be enough. Will the anchor of trust be enough to secure my confident hope? I have to believe at the end of each day. I believe God in all things. I cannot be distracted with yesterday and still prepare for tomorrow. Ignorance would be bliss. But I want to be blessed which requires wisdom and desire to turn around and face the future rather than dwelling in (or on) the past.
Genesis 19:23-26 (TLB)
Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
We really don’t know a great deal about Lot’s wife. Surely she was there when the men from the city came for the messengers of God and Lot offered them her daughters. She must have seen the same depravity in the city that her husband did speaking of it in private conversations together as married couples do. I can only imagine she prayed for her family’s safety living in that place. When the angels carried them away, clearly she had to know it was the Hand of God. The Lord told them not to look back. She did. She became a pillar of salt. Did she look back to see what the Lord was doing? Did she secretly cheer Him on in her heart? Did she long for her home and comfort zone? No one really knows yet many will speculate. I know this. God told them not to look back and she did. Was it bitterness that turned her into a pillar of salt? Bitterness that after loving and serving God in the midst of the ungodly – she would lose everything and have to start again? When bad things happen to good people, it is unthinkable. When bad things happen to God’s People, we still have hope. But hope is never found in the past, it resides in the future. We must endure to the end for it all to be revealed. Once we have it, there is no need for faith to hope for it. When God moves us to the future, we must stop looking at the past. Even if it is not with longing, but fear of its return.
Ephesians 2:4-8 (TLB)
But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved— and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did. And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ. Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God.
When I read this today, I was thinking yeah, yeah I have seen this a hundred times before. Yeah, that was until I read verse 8 yet again with new eyes and a new heart. “And even trusting is not of yourselves; but a gift from God.” What? We come to the Lord attempting to trust Him and have faith in Him, but it is through our living life that true trust is established as God deposits it in our life so we came believe. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Those who trust to the end will be saved. It is when I can no longer trust myself that I can totally trust in God.
Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (TLB)
And I know this, that whatever God does is final—nothing can be added or taken from it; God’s purpose in this is that man should fear the all-powerful God. Whatever is has been long ago; and whatever is going to be has been before; God brings to pass again what was in the distant past and disappeared.
Oh, this is where it gets good. I change my mind like our youngest child changes her outfits each day, but the Lord never changes. He is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He releases His Word in my life, it cannot and will not return void. He is God. He was then and He is now. (Isaiah 44:7-8) So even when I stop striving for His Best due to lack of trust or fear, the Lord is still doing His Part to make it a reality in my life. Thank you Jesus! It means that He is giving me the opportunity to trust Him more so I will believe which always leads to receiving.
Romans 4:16-18 (TLB)
So God’s blessings are given to us by faith, as a free gift; we are certain to get them whether or not we follow Jewish customs if we have faith like Abraham’s, for Abraham is the father of us all when it comes to these matters of faith. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say that God made Abraham the father of many nations. God will accept all people in every nation who trust God as Abraham did. And this promise is from God himself, who makes the dead live again and speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past. So, when God told Abraham that he would give him a son who would have many descendants and become a great nation, Abraham believed God even though such a promise just couldn’t come to pass!
If you are struggling with the past today, even those things that clearly God has moved on your behalf, don’t beat yourself up. He is working in you. The demolition of self is part of the process when God changes us. Heals us. Delivers us. Revives us. Restores us with more faith and trust than ever before. We have but one mission today and that is to look straight ahead. If our past has a place in our future, the Lord will make it so. Don’t worry! Stop stressing that you are not good enough or faithful enough for Him. He is the One who is working in you today. You are not a spiritual failure in weakness but an open vessel to receive more faith, hope and trust so you can believe in the God who does impossible things. God didn’t create us to be spiritual superheroes but super surrendered to His Love which makes all things possible if we can believe it enough to stay in it. The Lord knows the price you paid to make it this far and He provides for tomorrow just like He did then. The Lord is with you today. He goes before you and behind you with His Hand of Blessing on your head. (Psalm 139:5) Together we will keep striving to forget the past and look forward to the hope we have found in Him!
Philippians 1:19-21 (TLB)
I am going to keep on being glad, for I know that as you pray for me, and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is all going to turn out for my good. For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that will cause me to be ashamed of myself but that I will always be ready to speak out boldly for Christ while I am going through all these trials here, just as I have in the past; and that I will always be an honor to Christ, whether I live or whether I must die. For to me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying—well, that’s better yet!