SIMPLE TRUTH: Help for handling your futureBy Staff Reports Published 9:54am Monday, May 12, 2014
By Charles Christmas
There is potential help concerning how to handle my future from God’s instruction and promise in Isaiah 43:15-19. This help can be summarized in three brief statements: remember the past; forget the past; look up and on.
Remember the past. God reminded his people what he has done for them in the past. Such remembering can produce celebration and giving of thanks. Remembering our past failures in the light of what God did for us or could have done for us can bring sorrow, depression, remorse, guilt or even worse.
Forget the past. How would God want us to forget the past? He does not ever want us to forget and overlook our past failures and go on as if they never happened. He wants to come into our past as God of compassion and forgiveness and see our broken hearts and contrite spirits and hear a true confession of sin and guilt, and say to us, “I will remember them no more and separate them from you as far as the east is from the west” and the “blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses you from all sins.” God would never want us to forget and not be thankful for what he has done and done for us in the past. He does not want us to miss out on learning from our past. But, he does not want us to live in the past and think that our best days are all behind us. Neither does he want us to live under the guilt and remorse of our failures or our bad experiences or our feeling of inferiority and be a prisoner of our past. Jesus came “to set the (us) prisoners free.” God desires to set us free from our past, whether it has been good or bad.
Look up and on. God does not desire to be “the God of our past” but “the God of our today, our now and our tomorrows.” All he has ever been, he is. All he has ever done, he can do. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” So God says in the Isaiah scripture, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it begins. Believe it. It will be like a new road into the wilderness; like rivers into a desert.” This is our call to look up to “God of today” and to look on to “God of our future.” This has been God’s call to his people throughout the Bible and today.
When Abraham was 100 and his wife Sara was 90, God spoke saying, “I am Lord God almighty.” They could remember the good things God had done in their past and the ways they had failed to trust God. But God was saying to them, because “I AM Lord God Almighty,” your best and most fruitful days will be ahead of you because of who I am and because you will join me in faith. “Remember the past; forget the past; look up and on.”
Moses was 80, and had resigned himself to tending sheep on the back side of the desert. God spoke to him saying, “I am the eternal and ever-present God.” Moses could remember the blessings of God in his past, along with personal failures. God was saying to him, “Remember the past, but then forget the past. The greatest days of my work and your fruitfulness are ahead of you. I will be with you and meet every need.” “Remember the past; forget the past; look up and on.”
Moses was dead and Joshua was left alone with God’s people near the border of the Promised Land. God said to Joshua, “Moses is dead but I am not dead. I am who I was and God of your future. You can remember my blessings and the people’s failures of the past. But your most fruitful life is ahead of you. You will lead my people on to victory. I will be with you. Be strong, courageous and obey”. “Remember the past; forget the past; look up and on.”
The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting those things which are in the past and reaching forth to those things in my future, I press toward the upward call in Christ Jesus.” “Remember the past; forget the past; look up and on.” He adds that this mindset is a mark of maturity in a child of God.
In Hebrews 12:1-3, God is encouraging us to remember the examples of faith from the past, but that we have our now and our future race to run. And we have our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of our faith, our example and inspiration, and our helper to the “finish line.” Therefore we must let go of the weights from our past and any present entangling sin; then run with endurance our future race, looking to Jesus. “Remember the past; forget the past; look up and on.”
—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.