Purging the Garbage

“One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 3: 13-14

“One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 3: 13-14

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if by some miracle we could begin again knowing what we know now? Things would be different wouldn’t they? Someone has said, “Its too bad life can’t be lived in reverse.” If that was the case, you could use some of that mature knowledge to avoid making the mistakes that you ultimately regretted later. But, that’s not the way life is lived. In fact, I suppose you have to make the mistakes to gain the knowledge. And we all have made our share of mistakes.

Without a doubt, there have been many times in my life when things just didn’t turn out right. During some of those times, I found myself wishing I could turn back the hands of time…to start over. I believe those times have occurred in all of our lives. Some have made the wrong career choices and wish they could go back to school to be retrained, but now they must support a family. Some have made a bad business deal and now they are ruined. How they wish they could go back. A girl finds herself in trouble and her heart is broken. How she wishes she could go back and start over, but it’s too late. A failed marriage disrupts family life and deeply wounds everyone involved. If only we could begin again. These kinds of events occur every day and no one is exempt from them. Think of the things in your life that you would like a chance to change. How we would like a “do-over” sometimes.

For the most part, the past holds many good memories. We remember the good times. We all have experienced times when we were happy and enjoying life; times we were with someone special. We remember the special events, birthdays, graduations, weddings and anniversaries. Good memories are a wonderful thing. It’s great to be able to tune them in and play them back. It brings a smile to our face. We can certainly thank God for the good memories.

Unfortunately, the past also has a dark side. The past can be a prison. It is possible for the past to put us in bondage. Along with the good memories, there also comes memories of our failures. Memories that seem to continually haunt us. When presented with our failures, we see ourselves as ‘sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind’. Many people live today that are plagued by their past. In the most extreme cases, these individuals sit in mental and rehabilitation centers constantly reliving the tragic events of yesterday. They have become victims. Ravaged by their past and living in a continual state of regret; they have become trapped by their past.

So How Do We Live With the Past?

Some people relive the past and recount it in great detail in their mind. All the negative emotions that they felt then, they feel again. Replaying regret steals our joy as we batter ourselves emotionally for events that are forever gone. Some individuals simply surrender to the past. They decide that they will never rise above the past and resign themselves to be what the past has made them. Others defy the past and refuse to be dominated by it. They recognize that while the past is unchangeable, they can do something to change how they deal with the memories of the past. There are basically three things you must do to effectively conquer your past.

  • Recognize the past for what it is; It is over, gone, finished, ended and passed. You can’t change one thing that happened back then.
  • Recognize the Satanic strategy in reminding you of the past. His strategy is to discourage and defeat you by stealing your joy. God’s desire is for us to enjoy life.
  • Recognize what you can do about the past. While you can’t change the past, but you can change the way you respond to the memories of the past.

Develop divine amnesia. “Forgetting what lies behind.” Ask God for a healing of your memories.

Engage in a deliberate activity in the present. “Reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Actively live in the present. Replace pessimism of the past with optimism. Believe there are good things ahead. Forget the past. Focus on the future.

Have a determined attitude. “I press on toward the goal.” Give your all to the endeavor. Make a decision that nothing will deter you. Let go of the ghosts of the past and let God give you a future. Releasing the mind from the past will cause the heart and mind to act in harmony. When the heart and mind operate in harmony, it restores our faith. Faith allows us to believe that good things are ahead. Believing good things are ahead will keep your heart full of joy.

The decision is yours. Choose life and the God-given opportunity to begin life anew. Or, choose to live in the bondage of your past mistakes, failures and shortcomings. I encourage you to choose life!

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