In my final year of High School I lined up for my heat in the 200 metres sprint and with about two thirds of the race run, I found myself out in front and on my own.
For one glorious moment I thought, “I’m going to win!” but the thought quickly evaporated as another runner cried, “Coming through!”
It was then I made the mistake that all runners are told not to make. Instead of keeping my eyes straight ahead, I allowed myself to be distracted by the runner who was “coming through”, turned my head and watched him go flying by – the race was lost by me in that briefest of moments!
Looking back will never win you a race and this principle also holds true for the race of life.
This is why Paul wrote, “…forgetting what lies behind…” in Philippians 3:13 as he described his approach to following Christ.
There were aspects of his past that Paul was proud of – his Jewish and religious heritage; but there were also parts that he wished had never happened, especially his ruthless persecution of the first Christians.
Nevertheless, having radically embraced the forgiveness and grace of Christ in his life, Paul concluded that if he was to keep moving forward in his goal of knowing Him deeply and intimately then he had to run free from the weight of his past.
For him to constantly look back at his old life would be to court spiritual disaster.
Some of us really struggle with the past, especially when it comes to guilt and shame from things we did or said.
But Corrie ten Boom had a wonderful way of illustrating how God views all of our sin, past, present and future:
“When we confess our sins,” she said, “God buries them in the deepest part of the ocean and then puts up a sign that reads, ‘No fishing.’”
Corrie once wondered about the accuracy of her illustration as she could think of no Scripture which supported her idea.
She need not have worried however as the prophet Micah declared, “Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”(Micah 7:19)
Are you troubled by your past?
Are past failures sometimes thrown up at you by others?
Does the Devil keep reminding you of your sins?
Then take heart in this: there is absolutely no sin God cannot and will not forgive.
The following passages from Scripture are a mere smattering of the glorious truth that God forgives our sin completely and does not hold it against us. (See Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17, 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34 and 1 John 1:9.)
Mediate on these passages, store them up in your heart, find others that affirm the same truths and always remember to run free from the weight of your past!
Grace and peace,