Luke 9:62 (NKJV)
“But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Have you ever been part of a group where all you do is sit around and tell stories of what you feel were the great things you did in high school? Maybe you were part of that championship team that overcame adversity and were still able to pull out a win? How about that one event or turning point in your life that seems to haunt you forever?
It would be difficult for anyone to say that they do not have events in their life that they do not replay over and over in their minds. They are part of us and in many ways make us who we are. But sometimes you can look a little deeper to find that these little moments combined may have made us who we did not want to become.
Not many of us can say that we are where we thought we would be a year ago, five years ago, or even longer. We ask children what they want to be when they grow up, but we can have difficulty remembering how we answered the same question years ago. Along the way each person we met, the places we went, and the experiences we have gone through continue to shape us into who we are today.
It is still our choice how we let all this input into our lives affect our hearts, our minds, and especially our path forward. If we look at how and why we do things today, we may not even know where some of our actions, words, or attitude come from. Most of us do not spend enough time analyzing such things or even just taking a moment to reflect.
During WWII Winston Churchill made a George Santayana quote famous. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This advice has its place, but we cannot keep replaying it. Many of us can have those people or events that continue to affect us years later. So, equally important advice can be, “Those who cannot let go of the past can let it haunt them forever.”
This is where analyzing or reflection comes in. Taking time to look at what is affecting our lives and how we do things is very important especially if we find ourselves stuck or unable to move. Anxiety and depression are real emotions that are not readily addressed. We suppress, lash out, or go off on a tangent, because those shadows from the past are still present in our lives.
Most of us will start by trying to recognize the thoughts and emotions that are causing this behavior. But often this will only scratch the surface of what we are going through, and we need to dig a little deeper. Trying to control our mind and what we are feeling will only take us so far. We literally have to get to the heart of the matter.
We can see some of this in the opening scripture. Jesus wants us to concentrate more on where we are going and not spend time looking back. By letting those shadows affect us we can get off course. It’s like taking your eyes off the road when you’re driving. You drift and run the risk of getting into an accident. It also means that we are concentrating more on our own past glories or scars rather than letting the Lord lead us and giving Him the glory He deserves.
Isaiah 43:18-19 takes us a step further. “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” Do not dwell on the life we were leading and spring forth into the new life Christ is offering us.
I have laid awake at night with images from the past or the words that stung still echoing in my mind. It was not until I brought Jesus back into my heart and turned everything over to Him that I got relief from my struggles. I use the light of scripture, the inspiration from Christian music, and the spiritual connection of prayer to chase away any darkness that wants to creep in behind me.
The Apostle Paul was a good example of this. He lived on his past glories and the raw emotion of feeling he was doing what was right. It was not until he opened his eyes and his heart to Christ did he change. He left all those dark shadows behind him and showed us what it looks like to be transformed by God. Paul spread this message personally and through the letters he wrote.
Like Philippians 3:12-13, “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,”
Forgetting what’s behind and reaching forward. We need to get beyond the old wounds and resentments from the past. Part of how we do that is in Ephesians 4:31-32. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Forgiving is not excusing what happened or what the person did, it is letting it go and not letting it control you any longer. I have had to do this and saw the dark clouds clear in my own life. It was not easy, but worth it. I drew closer to the Lord and found a peace that you can find too.
So, join me by letting go of those shadows from the past and feel the Lord in our hearts, leading us into the future. He will warm us with His light and open our eyes to what is possible through Him.
HIS LOVE THERE FOR ALL TO SEE
They are always hiding in dark places or the recesses of our mind,
So many can be easy to spot while others are hard to find.
Some never seem to leave us and have really gotten quite old,
With others being fairly new but still make us one to fold.
With each temptation or desire that overrides our thoughts,
The fears and doubts that rise up tying our stomachs in many knots.
Each day we put on a brave face and try to push through any pain,
Just looking for a little relief or a foothold we can gain.
Though the shadows of the past are ever present we have choices we can make,
To let them keep haunting us forever or find other paths that we can take.
We can feel to control our thoughts or emotions is the best place we can start,
But we cannot overlook our center and should look deep within our heart.
The longer we let the shadows affect us the more closed off that we can become,
We need to reverse their hold and remember where our strength comes from.
When we invite the Lord to live in our heart the shadows will begin to flee,
His light will shine through all we do and His love there for all to see.
Simple Faith Christian