Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before (Philippians 3:13 KJV)
Though many things exert intense effects on our present and future, our past is the mountain amongst the hills. A disproportionate degree of how you feel right now, see yourself, or think you can or cannot do is linked to events in your past. Besides, your ability to manage your past determines your present and influences your future.
Our past has two major types of events—successes and failures. These events can promote or hamper future successes or failures. For example, a minor victory from yesterday can make us complacent and forfeit the greater victory and glory God had prepared for us.
The umbilical cord that connects us to our past successes and failures is our memory. Scripture encourages us to remember some things and to forget others. For instance, Paul says he had to forget the things behind him to reach forth to more extraordinary things ahead of him. Despite his remarkable ministry, Paul understood that if he had encamped around his past victories, he would not reach further to a greater ministry. He had to “forget” the things that were behind—not counting on those past victories and letting them plunge him into complacency. However, Paul also frequently remembered many things in his past, such as the faith of Timothy( 2 Tim. 1:5).
But forgetting or remembering does not mean erasing those things from our memory. On the contrary, it means not giving our past the power to control our present and influence our future. For example, God says He does not “remember” our past sins. We will also do well not to remember them. No believer will ever prosper spiritually until they “forget” their past sins that God has forgiven. As long as our past sins or failures still have a strong bearing on how we feel or think today, there is little hope for spiritual progress. If God has forgiven our sins and “forgotten them,” we must also trust Him and “forget” them. Similarly, if God gave us another chance despite our dismal prior failure, we should trust Him and give ourselves another chance.
However, since humans are both spiritual and physical, our past failures cannot merely be deleted like we delete messages on our phones. For example, past sins cannot just be forgotten until they are forgiven. Forgiveness, from God and often from people, including ourselves, is often the knife that cuts the cords binding us to a sin or wrong in the past. But forgiveness is not always what is needed because our past failures are not always sins or wrongs. Sometimes, we have to be humble to accept a past failed attempt and trust Christ for wisdom and strength to do better in the future. Entrusting our past failures, weaknesses, and sins to God is crucial for a healthy spiritual life, ministry, or destiny. Sadly, some of God’s precious children, maybe reading this devotional, are still hooked to an event that occurred 1, 5, 10, or event 25 years or more in the past. May God’s knife cut asunder that cord today as you read this devotional and let you lose!
Sometimes, our prior victories, not our failures, are the problem. For instance, God might begin using a brother or sister with a glimpse of manifestation, of a spiritual gift, and that little beginning becomes a hindrance to the glorious future God had in mind for them. They might suddenly think they have arrived. And since they believe their cup is already full, God no longer sees any space to fill them with anything.
But scripture repeatedly encourages us to remember many things from the past. One of such things to remember is God and His works in our lives. When you intentionally place God and what He did for you, faith springs up like a fountain of water that flows out in rivers of joy, peace, and rest.
In summary, we must learn to steward our past victories and failures while knowing what to remember and what to forget.
As discussed above, what is the bridge that connects us to our past?
Apply the Word
It is inescapable—our past is there to make or mar our present and future. We cannot change the past, but we can properly manage it. Forget what God says you should forget, and remember what He says you should remember!
Ask the Spirit to help you properly handle the failures and successes in your past.