Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, which is why it is called the present- Author unknown
I wonder if Paul ever really got over his past. Specifically I am speaking of his persecution of the church. The New Testament church, now his pride and joy had once been so heinous to him that he traversed land and sea to have believers thrown into prison. He is even seen as the chief instigator of the stoning of the first Christian martyr Steven. Later on as he faces beating, persecutions and ill will everywhere, he had to be reminded almost daily of his own past indiscretions toward the Bride of Christ.
Forgetting one’s past may be the most difficult thing that anyone does. I don’t know about you but I have failed so many times in the past (not to mention the present, and God only know what the future holds) that I struggle on a regular basis about my worthiness to attempt anything for God. The hardest part of writing this blog is dealing with the reality of my life while I try to write about the ideal of the Christian life. My real life vacillates from hidden habitual sins to regular public displays of my depravity to momentary moments of obedience. (Just ask my wife). Who am I to tell you how to live the Christian life? The answer is NOBODY! I am a has-been who never was. I am just a struggler sharing my struggles. I am just a student of the Scripture that hopes that maybe something I have learned or am learning will help you.
How grateful I am that God made me with an optimistic disposition, because I don’t think I could bear to move on through my weakness otherwise. Sometimes I am able to block out my past (though it hauntingly hounds me at every turn). Other times I succumb to discouragement over my frailty. For a short time I was a pastor in my hometown. Everyday I was reminded in some way of my past, and had to deal with my past failure. My parishioners kept me apprised of my present weaknesses. But in the midst of all that I had to keep pressing through. Forgetting the past, pushing through the present hoping for a better future. I thing that is what Paul is saying in Philippians 3:
In vs. 13-15 Paul writes, “13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
It is fascinating that Paul describes the mature mindset as someone who
1) Forgets the past
2) Reaches forward to the future
3) Presses toward the goal of the calling of God on their life
In vs. 12 he says, “12 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 “ Paul spent his life not focusing on the past but rather trying to understand why Christ had laid hold of him in the first place. For us it is the same. To overcome our past we must move on to the future. I guess there is no better time than the present. Hang in there!
**Photo by Stewf (http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewf/1833329391)