"...Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead..."  - Phil. 3:13

Easier said than done!

It's the last day of the year.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could lift our glass to the toast at midnight and magically in that moment: “Poof!” The past truly became the past? My sins are forgiven. My broken relationships are healed. My stupid mistakes are wiped from memory.  And my wrong turns are all straightened out.  

God has forgotten. The people in my world have forgotten. And most of all, I have forgotten. 

Is that what that Bible verse means when it says, "Forgetting those things which are behind?"  How can you truly forget?  It seems that some things just keep coming back. The memory is jogged. The temptation reappears. That person shows up again. My failure is ever before me.  And even if I work hard to forget, here comes that insensitive, inconsiderate big mouth who just can't leave it alone.

How can I get that thing in the past?

First, let's get the meaning straight.  When you look up the word "forgetting" in that verse, you discover it means, "No longer caring for" or "Given over to oblivion."  In other words, it is not that it is wiped from memory… 

It simply means that you can reach the point where it no longer matters. 

You can now say to yourself, "So what?! My life has moved forward. Chalk it up to experience. I am at peace with it!  I am at peace with God! I am at peace with others! I am at peace with myself."

Even that sounds pretty magical. So how do I get there?

As you ponder today how to get the past into the past, consider the following steps. Then give yourself the space of a little time to make the journey. It does not always happen overnight.

What to do to forget the past:

Deal with it!

The longer you put off confronting the issue that is unresolved, the longer it will dig in its heels and bury itself into your memory bank.  You cannot forget what you will not confront. Your neglect of the issue reinforces its staying power in your life. Face it!  Deal with it!  Conquer it!  Then it no longer has footing in your mind and heart, no ground to stand on. It will lose its power to exist in your place of victory.

Open up!

Choose an appropriate wise confidante and confess the issue. It has to be someone you can both trust and to whom you are willing to listen. Give them permission to give it to you straight.  If you need counseling, get counseling. If you need a team of two or three people, then bring them together. It may be that you need to meet regularly for accountability. 

Get it off your chest. Get it on the table. Let the surgery begin. No surgery, no healing. It may be painful. But remember that God is a good anesthesiologist. He will meet you there with his mercy and grace. It’s amazing how once the surgery is complete, the healing process can begin. And equally amazing is how healing and resolve are delayed as long as the surgery is delayed. 

Bury it!

Fill your mind with the right kind of information. Give fuel to your thinking power. You must overcome the wrong thoughts with the right thoughts. Read the right stuff. Listen to the right people. Receive correct teaching. 

You are what you think about. And you will think about whatever you consistently feed into your mind. 

If you want to get something in the past, you must dig a hole and bury it with positive, powerful soil. Begin and end with God's Word. Find as much helpful info as you can that lines up with the Word.

Overwhelm your past with the weight of a fully refreshed mindset.

Forgive!

Whatever is unforgiven is unforgotten. You will keep ever before you what you are unwilling to let go of. You must forgive. You don't have a choice. Your un-forgiveness is a burden that you have chosen to carry with the illusion that it is holding someone else hostage. 

Remember the guy at the stop light that just turned green. His music was so loud and his brain so distracted that he just sat there while you angrily beeped your horn. He finally drove on, "bebopping" down the road, while you carried your frustration with you the rest of the day. Your "losing it" did not impact him in the least. But it ruined your day. 

Your bitterness will have little effect on the object of your anger. But it could destroy your life and hurt the ones you love. 

Reach forward!

If you want to get something behind you, then you must hit the gas pedal and leave it in the dust. What is it that you want? Where are you headed? What are your goals? And most importantly, what is God's thought about your future? Get that verse from Jeremiah 29:11 down into your spirit.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." 

Set your sights on things bigger and better than where you are. I'm not necessarily talking about material things. Ask yourself questions like, "Who am I in God's eyes?"  "Where would my life be most effective?"  "How could I serve in a way to do my part in changing the world?"  "In what direction must I go to make a difference?"

Make sure that what you are reaching for is far enough out of reach that it will require you to leave behind the things that are keeping you from getting there. 

Don't hang around your past! Move your life full throttle toward a divinely-designed future. This doesn't always mean that you have to physically move. But it absolutely requires that you mentally, emotionally and spiritually pick up your pace and run as fast and effectively as you can to a changed life. And sometimes it may necessitate a move, so don't completely rule it out. 

To sum it up...

The past is not in your past until it is behind you.  And it cannot get behind you unless you deal it, overcome it, go beyond it, and keep your distance from it. 

That's why it says, "...Forgetting those things which are behind..."

Happy New Year!  See you on the other side!

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