Philippians 3:13, 14 (KJV)
"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, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Two phrases jump out at me in this passage of Scripture..."forgetting those things which are behind" and "reaching forth unto those things which are before". When I read this, I come to the realization that we really cannot do the second step until we do the first. The human mind is created to remember, so it is going to take some conscious effort to "forget the past". I wonder what was going through Paul's mind as he wrote this? Was he remembering Stephen's face as he was enduring the first martyrdom in Christian history? After all, he (Paul) was standing by watching and "consenting unto his death". (Acts 7:58-60, Acts 8:1) Paul may not have been throwing the actual stones that killed Stephen, but he approved of the killing. Maybe he was having flashbacks of women and children who were left crying at the door, as he pulled believing men from their families to cast them into prison for following Jesus Christ. Possibly it was memories of the terrors of shipwrecks or scourgings he had endured. Perhaps he was remembering his painful, contentious split with Barnabus. It could have been countless recollections that threatened to drag him down and pull him back into reliving a place in his life that he would rather not revisit. I imagine Paul had a lot of forgetting to do, and he realized he would never progress forward in his walk with Christ until he did.
What about you? Do you have regrets? Do old, nagging, hurtful memories plague you and keep pulling you backward, when you'd rather go forward and leave them behind you where they belong? Let's face it. There are things in all of our pasts that we wish we hadn't said or wish we could do over. We've all been wounded and traumatized by unfair treatment and careless, harsh words.
Regret is paralyzing, and remembering hurts wastes precious time and energy. Indulging in self-pity will immobilize us to the point that we never move one step ahead in Christ. Our archenemy, satan knows this, so it is his intention to make us wallow in it forever. He loves to bring past hurts, trauma, and stressful situations to our minds over and over again, because he knows that each time they come to our minds, we relive them. We end up re-experiencing the emotions, and we are propelled backwards and robbed of any progress we might have made in putting the pain behind us.
My family and I have had some hard things to deal with over the course of the past several months. We had to make some changes that were very difficult. At times, the stress-level was over the top, and many times, I wondered if we would make it and see brighter days. But, God has proved SO faithful to us. We have begun to see glimmers of the brighter days I thought may never happen, and it is such a welcome relief. Every now and then, satan brings up an injustice that was inflicted, a deep wound that pierced our hearts, or some trauma that hit us like a hurricane. When one of those memories come to the surface, I feel myself panic and begin to react. It is in then that I must choose to FORGET. I must pick myself up and make the conscious choice to put it back in the past where it belongs and leave it there. It isn't easy. It takes a concentrated effort to forget.
I have learned that as long as I relive those painful moments and hurtful life experiences and keep rehashing them over and over in my mind, I will never move on to step two..."reaching forth unto those things which are before". Who knows what great things God wants to do in our lives? We'll never grasp them or even recognize when they are happening as long as we stay stuck in the pain of the past.
Forgetting means letting go. Paul made the choice to forget, so he could move forward. By God's help, you can, too.