When we find ourselves in a limited place as leaders, with everyone looking up to you, we can get stuck dwelling on the past. When we feel trapped, static, or caught in a waiting posture, all kinds of thoughts can seep into our minds. We may start longing to go back to some relationship or season of life that God ended. We may spend hours meditating on the circumstances that landed us in our limitations. Before we know it, our hearts are filled with hurt, frustration, anger, sorrow, blame, condemnation, fear, or all of the above.
Paul wrote, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NASB). Forget what lies behind. Paul had to “forget” so he could “press on.” As long as you are holding on to what’s behind you, you are hindered in reaching forward.
As one of the first African American kids to integrate my little elementary school in Tennessee in the 1960s, I must’ve been called racial epithets many times. Now, I have to work to remember even one instance. Truly, I have forgotten—and I thank God because if I had stayed in that emotional place, meditating on those moments and scenes, I would’ve forgotten who God says I am.
Of course, some things cannot be forgotten as in wiped from our memory. By “forgetting,” we really mean stripping the past of its power to hold us. We can make up our minds to do that: I’m going to quit meditating on the past, quit turning my past mistakes over in my head, quit sifting through old hurts and the memories that haunt me.
Once we make that decision, we ask God to help us.
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