“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead…”

-Philippians 3:13

Often in life, we forget the things we should remember and remember the things we should forget. Forgetting and remembering, both  play a huge role in life, including  in our spiritual life. When we forget what we should remember and remember what we should forget, our mind, soul and spirit become unhealthy. An unhealthy mind even in a healthy body will cause our whole lives to be unhealthy. When our inner life is unhealthy, it will affect our relationships, our health, attitude, faith in God, and even our destiny.

We all have three balls in life to play with. The first is the ball of the past. The second is the ball of the present and the last, is the ball of the future. In other words, in order to grow strong in life, to live the life God intended for us, we need to be able to deal with the past, the present and the future according to God’s directions found in His Word. We need to play these three balls properly and biblically.

 We can view our past in two ways. First, it can be a school you can go back to visit and learn from.  Or it can become a prison cell. Every time you visit, you find you cannot get out. Every time you visit, you come back with a chain on your foot. Every time you visit, you carry back to the present bad feelings, negative thoughts and pain. In 2017, what did you build? Was it a school or a prison? Make your past a school, not a prison.

    What is forgetting? Paul said in verse 13, Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.   The word forgetting in Greek is Epilanthanomai. It means a few things in Greek. It could mean to forget in the sense of failing  to remember. You cannot recall something from the past. The second meaning is to neglect. Neglect means fail to care. It means not caring. In other words, you do not care or let it bother you.

Paul asked us to forget things in the past because many things in the past hinder us from moving forward with God into the future. If you still choose to dwell on and keep in remembrance bad experiences from the past, it means you will continue to feel pain and disappointment. The reason why disappointment, bitterness, anger, resentment, sadness, shame, rejection, loneliness, and fear are hard to forget is because they happened in your soul; they affected your mind and your emotions. Forgetting will not happen unless you get healed. God alone is the healer and He is able to heal. We should pray every day for healing.  {I don’t disagree with this, but don’t think it fits with the quotation from Paul that is the springboard for this blog.}

If you cannot forget things in the past, you will carry them with you and the way you carry them is not in your backpack, but in your heart and in your mind. You carry them in your spirit. You carry them so they influence your attitudes, your perspective and your worldview. When you carry a lot of baggage or burdens God never intended you to carry, you will be encumbered and slow in moving. You will have to use a lot of energy to move from one place to another. That’s why God commands us to forget. Even though He knows it is very hard for us to forget, but with  God it is still possible. Here’s where faith kicks in. We must believe this is true to make progress in this area.

Therefore, it is good, in fact, it is needful, to forget the bad experiences from our past. What if you cannot forget them now? One thing you need to know. Forgetting is a process. Even if you want to forget, you are willing to forget and already made a decision to forget it’s not always that simple.  You need to walk and work with God and He is able to help. You want to, you are willing to but still you feel you cannot forget. If you cannot forget, you still have another choice; you can neglect them. You need to work on neglecting your past, as this is a step toward forgetting. Neglecting is another way out which is to fail to care about the past. In this case we must remember that we are now under the blood of Christ which means that we need not bear the shame of our past any longer. We now see the past for His glory because He has gone to such great lengths to save us. In this mindset we can give glory to God for what He has done and neglect the shame that Christ has forgiven us for.

Do not let the past of 2017 become a burden in 2018. The past is behind, so learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, enjoy it. The past is where when you prayerfully reflected on it, God will reveal to you lessons you learned or still need to learn. The future is where you apply the lessons. If you do not learn from the past, you will have nothing to apply for your future. As a result, your past will repeat itself again and again because you have refused to learn. May that not be true of us in 2018!