Getting PAST our Past on PURPOSE
As we go forward in this New Year, we often focus on the future (resolutions, goals, visions) which is certainly healthy. One of the major obstacles in going forward is dragging our past baggage and stuff with us. Yes, we all know we can’t change the past, but too often we allow the past to hinder our future. There’s no future in our past. We can’t change the past, but we can through Christ help write the future.
Paul said in Philippians 3:13 …. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is BEHIND and straining toward what is ahead…” What is it that you need put behind you as you begin this New Year?
Sure, your list may be long, but what is the one dominant thought or memory that hinders you from going forward? Scripture also states that we’re in a race, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us RUN with perseverance the RACE marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
WHY should this be a priority? So that we can go forward in pursuing His plans for us; serving others in building His Kingdom and experiencing joy on our journey with Him. Have you ever tried running with a backpack on? Perhaps, pulling or carrying someone or something?
Have You Ever Tried Running With a Backpack On?
Like anything else in life, it “BEGINS” with a DECISION. A decision to deal with our issues. We can kick the can down the road of procrastination, or we can deal with it. It’s similar to experiencing a tooth ache for several weeks or months. Most of us do not experience great joy in visiting the dentist. Yet, when we decide to go, the dentist can either repair the tooth, or pull it. Whatever your issue is, deal with it so you can go forward in this new year.
May I list three issues that often hinder us from getting beyond our past, that are common to all of us?
A Decision to deal with SIN ISSUES. Sin is sin. It’s not a mistake. It doesn’t need therapy. It doesn’t need to be explained away. It needs to be confessed and receive God’s Forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We face the choice: will we deal with our sin HIS way, or our way? His way works. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
A Decision to deal with RELATIONSHIP ISSUES. If we’re to mature and be healthy, sometimes doing the uncomfortable is a necessity. Who do you have “major” issues with? What is a major issue? One that siphons away our time and drains us of emotional energy. It clouds up our emotions and prevents us from walking with a clear conscience. Maybe it’s the person that causes you to change aisles at the grocery or other stores. The person you “purposely” avoid at your work, neighborhood or church. Yes, it will move us out of our comfort zones. Isn’t discipleship about taking up our cross daily, rather than looking for the road of comfort? When we humble ourselves and walk in obedience, it often helps us to grow and mature. What will the other person think or do if I meet with them? It really doesn’t matter as we can’t control what others think, say or do, but we do have control on what we choose to do. My wife says, “I’m the boss of myself.” Aren’t we each the boss of ourself (under Christ)? Isn’t one of the fruits of the Spirit…. self-control? Quit allowing your thought-life to be depleted by a negative relationship. You may be surprised as you pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit before you meet with that person. God may turn that relationship around and make it a healthy friendship.
What Is a Major Issue? One That Siphons Away Our Time and Drains us of Our Emotional Energy
Decision to deal with GUILT ISSUES. Please understand, conviction originates from the Holy Spirit, while guilt comes from the enemy of our soul. Forgiveness is a part of the Lord’s Prayer – forgive us Our debts and we forgive others. Numerous counselors state that so many of our emotional and relational issues emanate from our failure to either receive, or to give forgiveness. When something “continues” to plague our spirit with guilt, it is too often tied to not forgiving ourself. Been there and done that. How about you?
Dr. Richard Dobbins tells the story of lady who had experienced major guilt for a number of years. As she explained her problem, he said, “Is that all?” She said, “Isn’t that enough?” “Did you ask the Lord to forgive you?”, he asked. “Yes.” “Do you believe the Lord forgave you?” “Yes, but HOW CAN I EVER FORGIVE MYSELF?”, she said. Unhealthy guilt (not conviction). He then said to her, “You believe God forgave you and that the blood of Jesus Christ was good enough to satisfy the holy nature of God. Why isn’t it good enough to satisfy your conscience? Must God send another son to die for your holy conscience? Was one Calvary enough? How many of us could overcome our past, by BELIEVING and receiving the forgiveness and grace of our Heavenly Father. Make the decision to believe by faith and not feelings. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us process our beliefs into actions. When we make a quality decision from His Word, He will help us. Our emotions will eventually catch up with what we believe. I believe it’s Rick Warren that said, “It’s easier to ACT our way into a feeling, than to FEEL our way into an action.” I’ve heard it said that we are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.
We Are Products of Our Past, But We Don’t Have to Be Prisoners of It
I believe the Holy Spirit has good plans for each of us in this New Year. May I encourage you to deal with your “issues”? Quit allowing your past to hinder your future. Deal with it God’s way. He will help you. Ask Him, as He has many titles that include: author and finisher of our faith, advocate, creator, comforter, counselor, healer, prince of peace, refuge, and HELPER. As you ask, HE will help you.