Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. - Philippians 3:13b-14 NLT
You would think that, for as much grief, pain, embarrassment, or fear so many of us have experienced, “forgetting the past” might be the first thing we’d get around to doing as soon as it became possible: I can forget about that humiliation or that heartache? Phew, great. Easy breezy. Glad we got that taken care of.
But we all know that isn’t how it works.
Because of the very fact that so many of us have experienced that much grief, pain, embarrassment, or fear, forgetting the past would be a dream. If our experiences and hurts and mistakes didn’t carry lasting impacts, the weight Jesus took on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) wouldn’t be very heavy, and those burdens that the Bible tells us to share with one another (Galatians 6:2) wouldn’t be much of a big deal.
Yet in truth, the weight Jesus carried for us was eternally heavy. The burdens we’re called to share with other Christians are too heavy for us to bear on our own or even with each other’s help, and that’s why we’re all hopeless without the One who actually has the capacity to carry the weight of the world on His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).
But maybe the most amazing thing? He not only has the capacity to carry the eternal weight of the sins of the world, but He did it, and He offers us a new life in Him that is free and light because of it. Through faith in Jesus and His perfect life, sacrifice, and defeat of death, our old can completely pass away. We are not hopeless, and we can have all that is eternally new.
I know what you’re thinking. Jesus and Heaven are great and all, but I thought this post would be about the whole “forgetting” thing. Right?
Well, that’s kind of the point. The best way (and the way the Bible shows us) to go about forgetting is to focus on looking forward. Because you know what lies ahead?
As Paul, the writer of Philippians, continues a few verses later to explain, through faith in Jesus, a glorious life united eternally with our God lies ahead (Philippians 3:20-21).
So we do exactly as Paul encourages: we look to where God is calling us. And He is calling us to Himself.
Of course, we know that, for as long as we are on earth, we will experience the everyday tugs between our new desire to look forward and our fleeting desires to look back (Romans 7:7-25). But no matter what our old ways consisted of - whether they were full of worldly success and independence as Paul's past was or rebellion, heartbreak, rejection - the only way we can move past them is to replace them with more of the One who makes us new.
Colossians 3 explains this process as setting our minds on things above by “putting to death” our old ways and “putting on” the new ways of God, kind of like doing an outfit change (v.1-17). Galatians 5 tells us that we can be sure we won’t be “gratifying the desires” of our old lives if we are walking by the Spirit, following our Jesus with whom our former desires and offenses were crucified (v.13-26).
And Hebrews 12:2 talks about “stripping off every weight that slows us down” in this way:
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Whatever old you’re leaving behind in 2017 and whatever new you’re longing for this 2018, I pray that you’ll find all the treasures of freedom and joy through faith in the One who is making all things new (Revelation 21:5).
And I pray that by His Spirit He gives you the grace to look to Him, to press on, and to run toward Him in the calling He’s given you on Earth. I pray that His peace will rule your heart, that He will set you apart and teach you through His Word. And with that, I pray that as you seek Him, you won’t be slowed by a single Earthly distraction or obstacle because your faith is firmly grounded in the God who is bigger than any distraction or obstacle could be.
Let us never fail to remember what God has done for us, the miracle that He’s delivered us from our old, how He’s changed us since we’ve known Him. But let’s not stay stuck there.
Let’s press on this year, sisters, with our eyes straight ahead, resting in the power of the One we gaze upon.
1. What lies behind you in 2017? Joy, sorrow, progress, disappointment, confusion?
2. If you’re a Christian, what past has God redeemed you from? Do you ever find yourself stuck there? If you’re not a Christian, could today be the day you turn your eyes to Him? Click here if you’d like to learn more about a relationship with God.
3. What will it look like for you to look forward to Christ in 2018? Take some time to journal out a weekly plan for ways you will fix your eyes on Him. For ideas, check out our free resources.
God, You are good and I know it, but sometimes it is hard to be stuck on this Earth where I haven’t fully graduated from my old desires, even though I’ve been made completely new and have been completely forgiven in You. Sometimes it is hard to be stuck on this Earth where pain happens, where things sometimes still just don’t make sense. But, Lord, I thank You that You give me a glorious hope to look forward to, and that I get to live in that glorious hope today in the calling You’ve given me on Earth. Father, thank You for allowing me to know You through faith in Your Son. Please help me to live by Your Spirit, to press on, and to keep my eyes fixed on You. Amen.
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