Our history can be our own worst enemy. We let it determine our future. Because of failures in the past we see little hope for the future. We let our past shortcomings determine what we can accomplish in the present and in the future.
The key to life change, however, is forgetting, not remembering. A prime example of that is Joseph in the Old Testament. Consider the life of Joseph. If anyone was a candidate to dwell on the past, it was Joseph. Here is s man who was coddled by his father, pampered as the youngest, and ridiculed and ultimately rejected by his brothers. His eleven brothers stripped him, threw him into a pit, then hauled him out and sold him as a slave in Egypt. In Egypt, Joseph started out pretty good, but then was accused of something he didn’t do and was chained up in some rat-infested prison and completely forgotten for several years.
You would think that Joseph would have some issues and dwell on his past. He didn’t. In all of it, Joseph saw a sovereign God who was at work. He found a better way to deal with his past. He would forget the injustice, trust a wise and sovereign God, and move ahead with his life.
In Genesis 45:8, Joseph looked into the eyes of the brothers who did so much to hurt him and said, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
There is no amount of regret, there is no amount of tears, there is no amount of wishing you could go back and do that part of your life again that will fix things. As Joseph proved, the only way to change things is to move forward. God says through the prophet Isaiah: “See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
The only way to move forward is to let go of the past. Remember Philippians 3:13-14: “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.”
Why not ask God for the grace to forget your past? This digging-up-the-past thing is a worldly and unBiblical method for life transformation. True heart change is not about remembering, and it’s not about digging up things that may or may not have even happened. It’s about trusting a sovereign God. It’s about focusing in on my own need to change and saying with the apostle Paul, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal”
Is it important to deal with your past? Absolutely. God doesn’t want us to pretend. He wants us to face our past and to deal with it by focusing on forgiveness, and putting it behind us. God’s plan for your past is that you would honestly assess it and then displace it through forgiveness.
1. Are there parts of my past that still plaque me? What do you need to “forget” so that you may focus on Christ today and tomorrow? How is my past keeping me from living in the present? What will I do this week to refocus pressing onto the future?
2. How can I balance the need to be spiritually content with the call to press forward and never be satisfied? How has God revealed to me the need to grow in various areas of my life? What area of my life is He currently working on? How am I responding?
3. Pray this week for God’s help on focusing on that which really matters? This week, how will my life be different?