“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
I was sitting this morning reviewing some of the verses I have committed to memory, verses that over the last several months have calmed my spirit and renewed my focus and passion. As I was going over this particular verse something jumped out at me in a new way that I would like to share, something that we all tend to deal with off and on. It has to do with forgetting the bad things of the past.
It is easy for us to look at the things of the past and start to dwell on them, to allow our minds to be consumed by them. The problem for all of us is that there are always bad things in our past and dwelling on them leads to nothing but misery and anxiousness. Why? Because ultimately those bad things are dead. They exist in a garbage pile and the only power they hold over us is the power we give to them as they call to come and spend time with them. As we listen, we begin to believe their lies that tell us we are weak and that we have no choice, that we must come back to them and experience them again and again. However, when we keep going back and living with them, their rottenness makes us spiritually and emotionally sick inside. We begin to focus only on how bad this garbage makes us feel and we soon fall into a cycle where the worse we feel, the further we are pushed into the dead garbage surrounding us. Now, it is impossible to focus on the future. Instead, we can focus only on our despondent present which is dominated by the past. What a miserable place to be!
Paul says, forget the past! Turn your gaze and your body in the opposite direction and look forward to what lies ahead. Our focus needs to be on the heavenly prize that God has called us to. A prize of hope, joy, peace, eternal contentment and happiness. Our focus needs to be on the GOOD things that will come as we walk in His ways, things that bring life, not the decaying dead things of the past. Christ calls us to a life of victory, not a life of reliving past anxiety, hurt, sadness and bitterness. But to live this life we must look ONLY to the future – to where life resides.
So, to move forward, we must leave behind any betrayal, disappointment, anger, frustration, hurt, or ill feelings toward anyone who has wronged us. We must then set our face toward the bright, shining SON and press on toward the Heavenly prize. We must focus on the great things GOD wants to do with us in the future, the things He promises to do through those who seek Him and serve Him, and press on. For when we walk this path, the dead things will slowly become farther and farther away. Then, praise be to GOD, their cries will eventually be too distant to be heard.