Getting Past the Past

Leaving Where You Have Been to Get Where You Want to Go

An Englishman visited a friend in Africa. His African friend was an avid sportsman and prevailed on him to go lion hunting. After spending a sleepless night in the jungle, they were up early the next morning to begin the big hunt. Stumbling upon the fresh tracks of a full grown lion, the sportsman was anxious to track down the lion. The terrified Englishman said, “You go ahead and see where he went, and I’ll go back and see where he came from!”

Let’s talk about going forward . . . about getting beyond the former things. Two things are necessary to get past the past: first, the previous must be forgotten; and second, the future must be pursued. Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are before. To embrace Christ, Paul had to forsake his Hebrew heritage and Pharisaical pedigree. To pursue his destiny, Paul relinquished his external virtue and trusted Christ for true righteousness that only comes by faith. He understood that He needed to forget his self-righteousness, but many of us need to forget our unrighteousness!

Forgetting the Past

To forget means to purposely neglect, or to put out of mind. You and I can choose to neglect the past. Don’t linger in the past. Don’t languish over the past. Don’t live in the past. We must learn from the past and the only way to learn from the past is to leave it!

You can’t change the past, but you can get over it. You can neglect those things which are behind. Stop looking in the rear view mirror and get your eyes on the road. Quit looking over your shoulder. Never mind where you have been; concentrate on where you want to go. You can’t change the past, but you can get beyond it. God has made a way out of the guilt, grief, and garbage.

Guilt. There is not a person in the Faith Hall of Fame who did everything right! Check out some of the blunders these faith champions committed:

All these committed glaring sins and mistakes, but they got up and moved on. Everyone falls in one way or another, but great men get back up! To stumble is human, but to stand up afterwards is a mark of greatness.

Even the Apostle Paul had to put some things behind him. Holding the coats of the men who murdered Stephen and his fierce persecution of early Christians were issues for which he found forgiveness for in the blood of Jesus.

Guilt is not a mental or emotional problem; it is a spiritual problem which requires a spiritual solution.

Just because you messed up doesn’t mean you have to stay messed up.

Just because you messed up once doesn’t mean you have to mess up again.

Just because you messed up does not mean you have to mourn the rest of your life because of your mistakes and failures. Grace can recover what sin has destroyed!

Grief. People get depressed because they have lost something. Maybe you have suffered the loss of a relative, relationship, riches, or reputation. Scores are blind to the future because they are bound by a discouraging past.

When someone or something dies there is a time for mourning. Israel had a designated period for grieving when Moses passed on, but when those days were ended, God told them to get up and go forward. David wept, fasted, and prayed for his sick child. But after his child died he washed his face, ate some food, and turned his attention back to his duties.

There comes a point when you must let the dead be dead, or you cannot live. You have to stop medicating your wounds. Once the season for grieving is over, you must get going to the next thing.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power . . . and of a sound (disciplined) mind (2 Tim. 1:7). You have power to dissolve doubts and move ahead. You don’t have to walk down those hurtful highways in memory lane! Incredible resources are at your disposal to bring renegade thoughts captive to Christ. The Lord Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and He can heal yours. Grief is painful, but it does not have to be permanent. By faith you received forgiveness. By faith you can take victory.

Garbage. God never consults your past to determine your potential. David committed enormous sins, yet God forgave him and used him. Think about the patriarchs who made some gigantic mistakes and still God spoke positively about them.

Have you made some colossal errors? Aren’t you glad not many people know about your “whoppers?” You may not be able to change the past, but you can get over it.

You can take your garbage and dump it at Calvary, because that is exactly what God did with it. God has put your past behind Him, so you can put it behind you. You can’t erase unwanted memories, but you can choose to neglect them. You have power to focus on the positive and reject the negative.

By the way, you will not change what you are unwilling to confront. Joseph had numerous injustices done to him. But when he was down to nothing, he believed that God was up to something! He got beyond his painful past into a fruitful future. Sure he had a rough “go of it,” but he got up and moved on. Instead of opting out as a career victim, he realized God was bigger than the people who wronged him. As often is the case, adversity led to tremendous achievement. Joseph got past his past and rose to realize his God-given dream.

Everyone has had unfortunate events, heartbreaks, losses, failures, and sins. Stop focusing on what you have been through, and start focusing on what you are going to.

The answer to garbage and guilt is the blood of Jesus. So potent is that blood that Christ Himself arose from the dead by its power. Think of it, He had more sin on Him than you will ever have on you. The Father took all the sin of all men of all time and placed it on His Son. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. His sacrifice paid mankind’s sin debt to the full satisfaction of God. On the third day Jesus rose again. That same powerful blood sets you free from the guilt and garbage of the past.

The solution to your grief is God’s grace which is far greater than your misery. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. Your loss may have been excruciating, but it does not have to be enduring. The sun can shine again.

That blood has never lost its power! Your victory will not come through resolution, but by the realization and reception of God’s amazing grace. The power of a disciplined mind is yours for the taking. You can neglect those things which are behind.

Pursuing the Future

You can’t gain any momentum moving toward tomorrow if you are dragging yesterday behind you. God says, Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are before. The forward look is essential. Don’t waste your time analyzing those who have wronged you. Use your energy to create new roads ahead instead of trying to patch up the old roads behind you.

You were put on this planet to solve someone’s problem. By giving your time and energy to your God-given Assignment, you will not squander your resources on things that have ceased to live. After a plane crashed on a snow-covered mountainside, the passengers thought they were going to die. Fearful of death, they started cannibalizing the corpses of their fellow passengers. On the other side of the mountain there was a ski resort in full swing. Not one of the survivors bothered to walk the short distance around the crest of the hill. They stayed where they crashed, consuming those dead bodies.

If you don’t move beyond your crisis, you will hunker down at the crash site criticizing and consuming the people who hurt you. Vultures feed on dead things, but you shouldn’t! Stop feeding on the carnage. Someone said, “Criticism is the death gargle of a non-achiever.”

The best way to get something out of your mind is to get it out of your mouth. Refuse to rehearse that painful episode. Stop meditating and talking about it. Every time you speak you are programming yourself and the people around you. Quit rehashing those details and advertising your pain. Stop talking about your experiences and start talking about your expectations. Refuse to review your failures and begin to envision your future. The important thing is not where you have been; the important thing is where you are going. You can be pitiful or powerful, but you can’t be both at the same time. Only you can make the choice to move to the other side of the mountain where there is life.

Don’t let the pain of the past poison your future. Bitterness will wipe the smile off your face. Bitterness will zap the river of blessing from your soul. Bitterness will paralyze your effectiveness in prayer. Bitterness will contaminate the people around you. If you don’t conquer bitterness, it will conquer you. Getting past the past is not something you SHOULD do; it is something you MUST do!

No matter how low you get, you are still on top of the devil. The next time Satan brings up your past, just remind him of his future! One of his most successful strategies is to trap the saints in the quagmire of the past. If you are reminded of your sins after you have confessed them, it is not God convicting you; it is the devil attempting to condemn you. You can’t erase unwanted memories, but you can choose to neglect them. The healing of your memories does not eliminate your ability to recall the past, but in time it will give you the ability to replay the past without the accompanying pain. More importantly, the power of a disciplined mind enables you to neglect those recollections and focus on productive pursuits.

Your memory replays the past, but imagination pre-plays your destiny. Allow your future to be the object of your obsession. Your life will always move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts. Reject fatalistic tendencies. Refuse to over-analyze. Realize your words are a signpost which signals to others the direction your life is moving. Get out of the pit of logic and move up to the palace of faith. Begin to think and speak about a preferable future.

We must master that verse found in Philippians 4:8, Whatsoever things are true… honest…just… pure…lovely…of good report…virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Our thinking, speaking, and dreaming will determine what we accomplish in this life. We must master our innermost thoughts. This is mandatory. Shake off the spirit of slumber! Rise up in your heart and lay hold on God’s power. God wants to take your disappointments and turn them into reappointments. Everything that pertains to life and godliness has been given to us, including the power of a disciplined mind.

Your future is as bright as the promises of God. By neglecting the things which are behind and reaching forth to the things up front, you can get past the past, pounce on the present, and forge into your future!

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  1. Obie L. Graves
    May 12, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    My initial intention was to present several paragraphs just written. Then decided not to respond at all, but wanted to say thanks. Now ,I am lead to state that your message was given to me at a divinely appointed time.
    May our dear Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless His church through you.

    Reply to Obie L. Graves