The concept of forgetting the past is not a new one. Usually reference is being made to something painful in our past. What about those great things in our past?
The natural tendency of most people is to focus on those things in our past that brought us joy, praise, even fame. Surely we are to look back and thank God for those things. But have you ever noticed those who tend to ride on the coat tails of those positive experiences? When our present circumstances are not all that impressive or exhilarating, people pleasers especially will continue to bring the focus to their degree, award, position…things that would look nice on a resume. As a believer, we must focus on what is real, what is truth, and that means the here and now. What does it matter if we were nominated as woman of the year 5 years ago, if we are not honoring the Lord with our daily decisions today?
In the book of Philippians, chapter 3, Paul shared his views on his outstanding pedigree and accomplishments. Compared to knowing Christ, all those things were as trash to him! He wanted NOTHING to take his eyes of his Savior!
Whether we need to shove aside our accolades or our traumas, we all need to separate ourselves from something from our past. In chapter 12 of Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George goes over three important steps to leaving these things behind us.
1. Discover the Gold – Elizabeth uses the analogy of a gold miner, how they sifted through dirt, sludge, rocks and water, ever seeking that one nugget of gold. Even if it took hours or days, that gold nugget was so valuable, it made the entire struggle worth it. We too, can comb through the trials of our past and find God’s hand at work. It is always there. But we may have to rifle through lots of worldly filth to find it. Do look though. That precious stone will continue to bless you as you move forward.
2. Find Forgiveness – As you are sifting through all the muck of your past, you will recognize some of it as your own sinfulness. 1John 1:9 reminds us though that if we confess our sins verbally, God is faithful and He is just, and will forgive us and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. When feelings of guilt try and inch their way back into your life, remind yourself that you have been forgiven!
3. Forgive Others – Along with the muck of your own sin, you will also come face to face with those who hurt you. As difficult as it is, we must follow Christ as our example, who cried out from the cross for His Father to forgive those that put Him there, “for they know not what they do!” Our pain will never come close to equaling His, therefore we can garner the strength to forgive those who have harmed us, as He forgave those who hung Him there.
My mother and I had plenty of hurt and harsh words for each other through the years. It is so easy to relive that hurt at the slightest reminder of similar pain. But as I look back and sift through all that, the nuggets of gold so FAR outweighed the muck. I had to grab hold of that preciousness as I struggled in the day to day physical care of her in the months before she went to be with Jesus. Even now, when something is said that brings back memories of an angry moment, I remind myself of how much my mother loved the Lord, how much she loved each of us, and how much time she spent on her knees, sometimes literally, on our behalf. What a priceless jewel!
There are numerous other examples of this principle, but I think one of my favorites is Elizabeth Elliot, and how she returned to the Auca people, who murdered her husband Jim, and ministered to them, giving them the gospel that would save them from eternal separation from God. She could have wallowed in her pain and many would have considered her justified. But she chose to find the gold, find forgiveness and forgive those that caused her so much pain. So many of those men are now her brothers in Christ! and ours too!
Dear reader, are you hanging on to your past? Whether it be your glory days or the painful ones, are you unable to move forward, and live for God? You will not be able to honor the Lord with your life, if you are not living in the truth of today. I would be honored to pray for you or rejoice with you if you would like to share what God is doing in your life. The older we get, the more time there is to sift through, but hopefully, that means there are more and more precious gems of blessing for which to praise God.