So I borrowed the title to this from the title song to one of my favorite CDs by Sarah Kelly. Sarah, I doubt you’ll ever read this, but I hope you don’t mind.
I love it when I go to the scriptures and find exactly what I was looking for. Mostly I find a lot of stuff I’m not looking for, but what I find is real and relevant and sometimes hard to grasp and put into practice. Today, though, I’m going back to an old favorite. I love reading in Philippeans. It seems like I learn something new every time I read it. There are a few verses, though, that encourage me every time I read them. I’m always dealing with different situations every time I read them, but they are more true and more real time and time again.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. “ Philippeans 3:12-14
Like I said…good stuff. Encouraging every time. There are times in our lives that we have big decisions to make. These decisions not only ask us to learn from past lessons, but they require this from us. Our past is our past. We cannot go back, nor should we, but we should learn and move forward or, as the scripture says, press on towards our goal. The problem we run into is that sometimes we’re reaching back into our past while we’re trying to take that first step into the future and the best that God has for us. Can you imagine trying to leave for vacation or something, and you’re walking to your car all the while turned around holding onto the door frame of your home? It’s not going to work. Even for Elastigirl it’s a tough deal.
The thing is is that when we look back into our past, we can’t see where we’re going. We can only see where we’ve been. Which isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve got a good friend who is a recovering addict. She looks at her past quite often and uses it as a beautiful testimony for God’s healing power and grace. She uses her past as encouragement to her to never go that way again. There’s too much pain back there to return to.
For some the past was their shining moment, the best part of their lives. They sit and think about how incredible it was while they’re missing what is going on right in front of them. They’re missing out on their chances to make the present as good or better than the past. Sometimes it’s just down right hard, and it might not get easier. What we have to realize is that if we’re reaching for the past or running back to the past or just living their in our minds, we’re cutting ourselves out of the present. We may be partially here, but if we’re to live life and live it to the fullest, then we need to be fully present in the present.
I started this post earlier today and am finishing it at about 11:30 p.m. All I know right now is that I want to live fully present in my own life and live fully open and aware as to what God has planned for me. I can’t do that if I’m living in the past. I can’t do that if I’m reaching to the past. If I’m looking back, I can see which roads I don’t need to go back down and then turn around and head forward full speed and press on towards the goal.
I don’t think that Paul is saying to cut ourselves off from the past. He’s saying to forget what is behind. My initial interpretation of that when I started this was to cut ourselves off from it and just move forward. After talking with a friend, I realize that we can’t cut ourselves off from our past. The past is full of seeds planted and relationships started that maybe just haven’t taken root yet, and if I completely cut myself off from them I’m doing everyone involved a disservice.
I guess the point to this post, if it’s making any sense by now, is that where the past meets today is tricky. To try to balance past decisions with present and future decisions is not something to be taken lightly. Living in the tension is the way we grow and learn and fully enjoy the blessings of God.
Father, help me to live a balanced life where the past meets today. Help me to live in the tension where I can grow and serve You best.