If you are reading this post, you have one thing in common with every other human being on the planet. You have a past. (By the end of this post, we hope you also know that you have a future!) That past is filled with successes and failures, both big and small. That past is filled with smiles and also with tears. It is filled with things we are glad to share with others, and it is filled with things we keep hidden from others, or at least “hidden” until the paparazzi or TMZ show up. Did you know that TMZ, the celebrity news website, actually stands for thirty-mile zone, which represents the studio zone within a 30-mile radius centered at the intersection of West Hollywood Boulevard and North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles?
In part, our past makes us who we are today. While we are all influenced by our past, we do not have to let our past dictate the present or the future. It is easy to let the past be like a lead weight that keeps pulling us under the water. It is also true that we all have the ability to use our past as a launching pad for tomorrow. We can wallow in the mud of our past or we can climb out of that mud pit, jump in the shower, wash the mud away, and holler those famous words from Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond.”
You might right now be thinking, “Oh you don’t know my past. The pain is too great or the hole is just too deep to climb out of.” Jesus came into this world to bring you hope and bring you a future. He loves you and is interested in redeeming and restoring you, no matter how broken you feel; to set your feet on solid ground.
David wrote this in Psalm 40:1-2 – I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
And the apostle Paul knew he could not dwell on his past sins and failures. He writes this, found in Philippians 3:12-14 – 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.
Paul was saying that “forgetting” was not obliterating the memory of his past, but it meant a conscious refusal to let it absorb his attention and impede his progress. We too, no matter how cluttered our past is with pain and junk, can “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.” We can use our past to launch ourselves into tomorrow. We can keep our eyes looking out the windshield and not out the rearview mirror.
New Bern, North Carolina