Yesterday, I drove up to Hickory, NC from Atlanta, GA for a funeral. As I travelled along Interstate 85, I had this thought. What would happen if I stared into the rear view mirror of my vehicle and refused to look ahead? It would be an impending disaster, right?
This past weekend, I met a 50-year-old woman that shared her story with me. She placed her trust in Jesus just four years ago at the age of 46. When I heard her story, I thought, is it easier to trust Jesus in elementary school or in your later years? I think one of the challenges with deciding to follow Jesus when you are mature in age is remembering to forget. What do I mean?
In Paul’s epistle to the church in Philippi, we find these words, “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.”
Isn’t it true, the more time we have lived, the more opportunity we have had to make bad decisions and to have things in our past that we aren’t proud of? When we lay in the bed at night, we reflect on loss or missed opportunities. The problem is, many of us get stuck in disappointment or sadness over the past. We get stuck staring in the rear view mirrors of our lives rather than at what is ahead.
Today, here is a simple step. One step, one thing to do today! Forget it, neglect it, and don’t put any more energy toward it.
What makes these verses real and impactful to me personally, is the person who wrote them. Paul had a previous way of life. Paul had a past. He intensely persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. He associated himself with those who killed the first martyr of the church. If anyone should be embarrassed and hoped no one googled their name because they were afraid of the search results, it would be Paul. However, Paul writes, “I strain toward, I press on”. Paul remembers to forget because he is convinced Jesus has taken hold of him for purpose.
If you are reading this and would say, “I’m not a religious or church person”, please hear that God has a great plan for your life and He isn’t mad at you, but wants to rescue you. Your past can be forgiven no matter what happened in the past.
Now, if you consider yourself a Christian or Christ-follower, but you are emotionally stuck in the past, remember to forget. Be forgetful of what is in your rear view mirror and strain toward what is ahead. God has called you heavenward in Christ so press on.
Eric Stallworth serves as Executive Pastor for Perimeter Pointe Church. Find & Follow him @EricLStallworth