Forgetting Your Past

Forgetting Your Past

“Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” – Oswald Chambers

One of the saddest things that I witness on a regular basis as a pastor is people whose lives have been crippled by past failures, mistakes, sins, and hurts. I meet people all the time who are unwilling, afraid, or who feel unworthy to step out in faith because of something that has happened in their past. Now, I know that when we get wounded by the sins of someone else or our own stupidity or both, sometimes it takes a while for those wounds to heal. That place in our heart is going to be tender for a while. And when a wound heals, it almost always leaves a scar.

Years ago, I had hip surgery and because of the extensive nature of the surgery, the doctor peeled me open like someone would peel an orange. Consequently, I have a giant scar on my backside. But the thing about scars is that you don’t really notice them until you see yourself in the mirror or someone brings it up. Scars of the heart are similar.  They are not noticeable until someone brings up that situation or you have some sort of an encounter with that person. Those memories come flooding back and the scar is brought into view again, the pain is remembered.

Now here is the reality about the scars of the heart; they can become the thing that defines you! The reminder of the “thing” or “event” that ruined your life; the thing or event that set you on a course toward destruction, seclusion and heartache. Or, on the other hand, that scar can become the pleasant reminder of the overwhelming and unending grace of God in your life. It is the thing that should have ruined you, but by the grace of God and the faithfulness of God, you are still standing and have moved on and are able to minister to others who have felt that same kind of pain.

What that scar becomes will depend largely on how you respond to the Word of God in your situation. Paul the Apostle, writing in the book of Philippians, declares “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:3-14)

Now, I want you to note that Paul doesn’t merely say, “forget the past.”  We know that is easier said than done. No, Paul says the way that you forget the past is by focusing on something else and making it the priority in your life. Paul refused to be defined by his past, so he declared  “one thing I do.” Paul would say to us,  I am pressing forward toward the goal and the prize of getting to know Jesus more and finding my identity not in my past but in my relationship with Him! That is the goal. That is the focus! That is thing that I am pursuing.

When the past involves our past sins, we need to remember that the Bible declares that our sins have been forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12). They are put as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). When my daughter, Amanda, was a little kid around three years old, she used to love to play with a calculator. She would fill the screen with numbers and then push the erase button and yell, “Clear!” and the numbers would vanish. That is what God does with our sins. First John 1:9 declares that if we confess our sins, that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You spend the day filling up the screen with sins, and then you bring it to the Lord in heartfelt repentance and God yells – CLEAR! And just like that, your sins our gone. God sees you in His Son, Jesus, covered in the righteousness of Christ!

Dear friends, we need to believe that and live in that reality. Our sins have been forgiven and forgotten, and even though the scar from that sin might still remain, it must not define us because we have been forgiven and set free! When the scar is the result of someone else’s sin and the way that they hurt you, you need to remember what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:9 that the grace of God is sufficient. The word sufficient means “more than enough to get us through.” The grace of God is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness. When we are weak, when we are hurting, it opens the door for the Lord to show Himself strong on our behalf, if we allow Him to. His daily measure of grace can be just what we need to get through the day when we reach out to Him and call upon him. When we learn to live in grace instead of the past, that scar becomes a symbol of God’s power being made perfect in the midst of our weakness and pain. That is how we can begin to follow the advice of Oswald Chambers and “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.” Daily living by faith in His grace and faithfulness is the key!

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