By Can Grace Kaiso
Paul, in Philippians 3:13 shares a dynamic that characterised his life journey: “Brothers and sisters, 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 towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We know that Paul, in his early years, was called Saul. He was an enemy of the Christian faith who persecuted believers and was keen to ensure it was too risky for them to openly witness for Christ (Acts 8:1-24).
Naturally, these experiences would haunt him after his conversion. They could easily act as stumbling blocks to his new found faith in Christ.
The devil could turn his guilt into an intolerable burden and this could deflate his passion and zeal for sharing the Gospel.
The past is inspiration
We all have our pasts. Not all that lies in the past is bad. In fact, the experiences in our past can be a source of inspiration for good.
I recall when my father was struggling with school fees, and my brother sacrificed and took over paying school fees for me, and the future this opened before me, I am now sensitive and inspired to respond to the needs of others and more open to support those in need.
On the other hand, when I recall the times I have failed God in my choices, I feel guilty and not worthy to be called after His name.
Our past is a mixed bag of both enabling and crippling experiences.
It is often easier to manage the positive experiences in our past, experiences that inspire us, but more challenging to deal with those that left physical, spiritual and emotional scars that need healing.
We can also be reminiscent about the past. I often hear people talk of the Uganda of the 1960s, with such a loss that if it were in their power, they would bring it back.
The past for them ignites a sense of desperation and paralysis, leaving them helpless in tackling the challenges of today that have robbed them of their romantic past.
This romantic past could as well be the peaceful environment of plenty in which one lived or the warmth of fellowship one had, with now the departed, parents, friends, or neighbours.
Paul was deliberate in evaluating his past and taking appropriate decisions not to allow the negative aspects of his past stand in the way of the opportunities that the present and future offered.
Allow Christ’s newness
My brother or sister, I don’t know where you stand in all this. It might be your failures in the past are bogging you down, they are robbing you of the motivation to deal with current issues and to face life with boldness and hope.
There is a way out. There is a path of healing and renewal. You might not alter the past, but you can disempower it by seeking God’s forgiveness and offloading the weight on Jesus the bearer of all our sins.
Christ’s coming proves that God wanted a fresh relationship with man. Jesus acts like a wiper of a car that is caught up in a heavy down pour.
The wiper clears every drop on the front screen of the car so that the driver can see the way ahead.
In the event that the wiper fails to work, the driver has no option but to park the car by the road side.
Many Christians have parked because they can no longer see the way due to their failure to confess their past mistakes or to let go of the anger and bitterness arising out of dehumanizing experiences in their past.
Their zeal and warmth towards the Gospel is lost, they have lost the joy of salvation.
In Psalms 51, King David shares his experiences. As King, he fell into serious sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, her husband.
He could never forgive himself for it, but he knew where to turn; the God he had wronged. He could not bring Uriah back to life. So, he embarked on the path of pleading with God for forgiveness.
There is no sin too big that God cannot forgive. There is no depth of helplessness that God cannot rescue one from. That has happened a number of times in my life.
In Paul and David, we have inspiring examples of overcoming and victory over the past. Therefore, as we enter 2023, I call upon you to forget all past things and not to dwell in the past, but focus on the present and future.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!