Don't Look Back
As I get older, I am positive that time is moving faster.
A lot of Christians are looking back on last year with deep regrets. Their lives were not what they wanted them to be. Their service to God was spotty at best and then only because of selfish intents. Like David, they are in a position where their sins are over their head and they wonder why God allowed them to live to see a New Year. There were heartaches last year. There were trials and tribulations. It was a very rough year for them. They are not looking forward to the future. Let’s see what Paul says about the past and the future.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things, which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
When I was saved, I asked God to make me a Peter or a Paul. I wanted to be the best Christian ever. Well, I am like Peter and Paul at least in their weaknesses, which is not what I had in mind. Instead of best Christian ever, I can stand next to Paul as the Assistant Chief of Sinners. Paul being Chief is fine as he earned that title before salvation, but here he is 30 years later and saying that he has not apprehended or in our terms reached his goal.
Paul didn’t reach his goal? Many would despair thinking that if Paul did not make it I certainly have no chance. Actually, that is our very inspiration to follow what he is telling us to do in this passage. Paul was seeking to be like Christ and experience all the suffering of Christ while walking in the power of Christ’s resurrection. Christ said to follow Him taking up our crosses and He would make us fishers of men. That is a high calling. That is a long range goal that will take the rest of our lives, but one day we will indeed be like Him for we are predestined to be conformed to His image. (Rom 8:29)
Paul did not bemoan any of his lack of being perfect like Christ or wail over wasted years or opportunities. He knew that would be a waste of more time. You cannot fix the past. You cannot change it. It is what it is and all you can do is rejoice that the mercies of God were new every morning of that past and if you are saved covered by the blood of Christ and forgiven in Him.
The thing about the past is that you probably do not remember all the things you messed up. Our minds are deceitful and we may cover up some things or conveniently forget some things. As we age, we just flat forget period. That is why 1 John 1:9 says that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins. I believe it is speaking of all types of unrighteousness, but also that if we take care of what we know for certain God will use that attitude of heart to take care of any that we missed due to our human frailty. Besides, as David said, if the Lord was marking or counting iniquities who would stand? (Psalm 130:3) That is why salvation is not of works. What a drag to have confessed all your sins except one and go to Hell especially if that sin was committed when you were 18 and you lived to 98. Praise Him that He is a God of mercy and that He is our Redeemer and we are not our own redeemers.
On the other side of that coin is that while you are beating yourself up for the failures you remember you also do not know all the things you did right. Actually, that is a good thing because it keeps us from getting a big head. God is good and at times when we feel our lowest He will send someone by to tell us what a help we have been to them or how they have been encouraged by us. We smile and thank them and then walk off thinking of where or when we could have been that encouragement or help.
That is why Paul did not even pass judgment on his own life because he was not the judge. (I Cor 4:4,5) Only God knows all the ins and outs of our lives and only He can pass a correct judgment. We may be better off than we think or worse than we think, but only He knows for sure, which is why we have to trust Him and not ourselves. (2 Cor 1:9)
Many times last year rather than looking to Him I would look at my failures. When I did that I wanted to quit thinking I was foolish to believe that the Lord could use such a failure. Yet, if you look at Scripture that is all that God uses for all of us have failed and come short of the glory and perfection of God before and after salvation. None of the great men and women of God in the Bible were perfect. Many of them failed miserably in some way and yet God in His mercy and love picked them up and used them.
We need to only learn from our mistakes and praise Him for His blessings in our past. After that, you stick the past in an album that sits on a dusty shelf in the back of your mind and get on with writing the next chapter of your life. You press on to the things that are before keeping that goal of His high calling before you.
There is a high calling for you in the Kingdom. May God place that goal clearly before your eyes in this new year and each year until He returns or you go to Him. Happy means to be blessed of God. In His strength, keep pressing on towards that mark and you will indeed have a Happy New Year. Maranatha!