Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but 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.
Paul was determined to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. (Philippians 3:10) In order to know Christ in that way, he knew he would have to forget the past and look ahead. He knew that in order to press on toward the goal of knowing Christ, he could not be burdened with his past sins, his failures, or the poor decisions he had made. Paul had been a Pharisee, and his goal at one time had been to annihilate Christians. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he was forgiven, and it was time to move on into the purpose to which God had called him.
In order for us to fulfill the call that the Lord has on our lives, we must be willing to accept the forgiveness that Christ offers us when we turn to Him. You may think that God will never use you because of your past.
Shame or a feeling of unworthiness may be holding you back. But Jesus is calling you to forget the past through His gift of forgiveness, and it is His desire for you to look to what lies ahead. The past may be haunting you and the future may frighten you, but the Lord is inviting you to follow Him. He has a plan and a purpose for your life: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Have you put plans on hold because your past is holding you back?
What lies have you believed that make you unable to press on towards the goal and purpose that God has for your life?
The Israelites were reminded that dwelling on the past prevented them from seeing hope for the future: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:18- 19) Are you willing to forget the past? The moment you turned to Jesus and asked Him to forgive you, He forgave and removed your sin forever. Forget the former things and look and respond to His calling for you.
Help me to put the past behind, to believe that You have forgiven me, and to forgive myself. Help me to see the new thing that lies ahead and to press on towards the purposes to which You have called me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen