. . . forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead . . . – Philippians 4:13b
Many people were happy to bid good riddance to 2016. It was a year of great tension, trial, loss and division. And now that it’s behind us, it’s important we don’t spend 2017 looking in the rearview mirror. It’s time to move on.
Christians can be guilty of fixing their eyes on that rearview mirror, reflecting on the mistakes, the regrets, the missed opportunities or maybe even the joys they fear they will never again know.
But do you know what happens when you stare into the rearview mirror? You become myopic. You completely lose sight of your course. You fail to prepare yourself for what’s ahead. You risk veering out of control.
Often the past has a powerful hold over us. We cannot forget past hurts. We cannot forgive ourselves or others. We choose to view everything through the filter of what has been, rather than what can still be.
Thus the straining to what lies ahead. By God’s power and His grace, we compel ourselves forward, believing His promises and trusting His heart. When we find ourselves revisiting that dark place, we run into the light of His holy presence.
We take Him by His outstretched hand, and we move on. Any other choice is pointless.
As long as we live in this earthly tent and travel along this linear timeline, we cannot change the past. It is done. We are powerless over it.
We are not, however, powerless over the effect it has upon us. We can choose to use our experiences for good, which is the will of God as expressed in Romans 8:28. We can apply the lessons we learn from it in an earnest effort to make 2017 a better year – a God-honoring year.
Remember that your past does not define you. Your God defines you. If your faith is in Christ alone for salvation, you bear His identity and are called to His mission.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus looked forward. Even the present had no hold on Him because He was focused on the joy that was set before Him, even though it was a joy He knew He would not experience on this earth.
I pray each of us will make this our most effective year of ministry – that we will grow in the grace and knowledge of God, that we will grow in our faith, that we will grow in our love for Him and that we will grow in our love for one another.
Let’s get our eyes off that rearview mirror and live in light of the joy that is set before us, even if it’s not in sight.