Lets face it. We all have things in our past that sneak back in our minds and try and distract us or distress us. You know the things I’m talking about. The what if’s, the why did or didn’t I’s. The how could I’s? The why me’s, or the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s of our lives. If we keep looking back at our mistakes it will hinder us from moving forward. Trust me; I know! If there was ever a person who had a lot of terrible things in his life to look back on it was the Apostle Paul.
In the book of Acts, Chapter 7:54-60 it tells about the stoning of Stephen. Paul (who was still called Saul)was there. He was watching. Chapter 8:1 it says; now Saul was consenting to his death. Then a great persecution arose against the church. Verse 3 goes on to say: As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Wow. Most of us have made mistakes or done things wrong but probably nothing like that. After he was converted he could have spent years in counseling; wringing his hands and moaning over what he had done. Or he could have spent years talking about how he wasn’t worthy to be used by God because of his past. But, no. He spent some time with the disciples and ate and was strengthened. Then, amazingly he moved forward. Chapter 9:20 it says Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Immediately. As in right away. Of course the people of his time were amazed. They chatted among themselves saying hey, isn’t he the guy that did all those bad things to the church? You know the type.
Despite his reputation and what people said about him, despite the numerous times they tried to kill him or they stoned him and beat him, still; he went on. In fact he went on to write a good part of the new testament. What was his attitude during this time? I don’t know about every day or if he had days when he wanted to just throw in the towel and run away. I know I would. I know he never looked back or went back and renounced Jesus. Check out the book of Acts. He praised God even in the hard places. Even in prison. One of my favorite things he had to say was in Phil 3:12-14. He said: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
He. Pressed. On. He forgot the things of the past and looked ahead. That’s some pretty good advice right there! He knew God had things for him to complete. Guess what? God has things for us to complete also.
Have you done something that needs forgiveness? Ask for forgiveness from the person or persons and ask forgiveness from God. Then, here’s the step many of us find so hard. Forgive yourself. Then let go. Give yourself grace. God does. He knows we make mistakes and aren’t perfect. He loves us anyway. Don’t let guilt, shame, condemnation or regrets keep you from letting your light shine and doing those things God has made for you to do. There are things God has for you to do that no one else in the world can do the way you would. There is no other part of the Body of Christ that is like you. When you truly let the past go and forgive; the past can’t hold you back any longer. Press on my friend. Press on.