I have an excellent memory; I always have. I remember details of certain situations that really are worthless, like what shirt I was wearing when I threw up on the way to school in early elementary or what my sister ordered at Casa Ole when we were young (if you have never heard of Casa Ole its probably for the best). Then I have random memories that are somewhat insignificant but mean a lot because of who I was with. I remember eating Mentos candy in an airport with my dad on our way to San Francisco. Because of the way the tickets worked out I flew with my dad, and my sister flew on a different airline with my mom. Once again, I was in elementary and am not sure why the time eating Mentos stands out. Random.
I wonder if I get this blessing (and sometimes curse) from my Granny. She passed away in March of 2013 at the ripe old age of 99. Towards the end of her life she would often say, “People used to tell me I had the best memory.” I cannot tell you how many times I heard her say this. Apparently, closing in on a century of life makes the short-term memory slip. She would talk as though I had never heard this before.
Keeping a journal for around 15 years now I’m sure plays a part in remembering so many events and details. I am a nostalgic person and enjoy recalling pleasant times in life. Sometimes I even enjoy recalling the difficult times because I’m reminded of what God has brought me through. However, if I am not careful I tend to dwell there, to mentally live in the past. Don’t get me wrong: being mindful of what has happened is important. We learn from history. But there are times we need to forget.
Philippians 3:13-14 says it best: “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.” Usually I stop after this verse, but the following verse is crucial: “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently that too God will make clear to you.” Not only is Paul telling us to turn our gaze forward, he is saying if we are mature in Christ we will do this. Furthermore, if we do not have this view, God will make that clear to us.
God presented these verses in a new way for me this morning. I have heard this passage since childhood, but I see it with fresh eyes in light of my current situation in life. If I am dwelling on my past, good or bad, I cannot be moving forward. We cannot look straight at the goal with our heads turned around.
I tend to rehash situations to no end. Remember the saying, “Don’t beat a dead horse?” This concept is nowhere in my understanding. Most of the time I “beat the horse” for months and often for years. But if I want to be mature in Christ I need to start forgetting what is behind and pressing on towards the goal, which is Christ. God says if we think differently he will make it clear to us. As I sit here reading this morning he did just that. I now understand with clarity. And what is the purpose of this? So we can live up to what we have already attained.
Now I ask you this question: where are your eyes? Get out of the past! Paul does not add a clarifying statement such as “Forgetting what is behind unless you have a lot of happy memories to dwell on” or “Forgetting what is behind except for those of you who have regret and think if you keep analyzing the situation it will somehow make it better.” No, he said to be mature by forgetting the past, looking towards Jesus, and pressing on towards the goal.
This is what we are called to. Keep pressing on.