Develop a Forward Focus to Release the Past

     My childhood home has changed a lot since my father built it in the 1950s. The playhouse in the backyard was dismantled long ago as was a sandbox we played in when we were small. Also gone is the big box of dress up clothes with the fox fur stole and the fat tire bicycles we road in the streets.

     Changes were made as we grew and matured. Eventually all five children moved out. We came back to visit my parents, but we no longer had rooms of our own. Dad converted my old bedroom into a study.

     As I routinely come to take my turn staying with my 93-year-old mother while her caregiver is off for two days, I think about all the memories associated with this home. When I am there, I write in the living room seated next to a large rock fireplace as my mother naps each afternoon. The rocks came from all around Latrobe… the place the house is built. One I carried from the creek on Porter Lane after discovering it while on a walk with my grandmother.

     Eventually we will sell the house. It is inevitable. Yet that is as it should be. This is a physical example of a spiritual principle. Our childhood home gave us an opportunity to mature physically and mentally, learning skills we would need to go out on our own, it was never meant to be a permanent residence. Neither is our earthly home. Its existence gives us opportunity to mature spiritually in preparation for our heavenly home. We are passing through and our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20)

Each time I go to Latrobe I try to untie strings that are still attached to my heart. Although my father died a couple years ago, I can still see him mowing grass in the old horse field or reading Alaska Magazine in the chair at the end of the dining room table. But it was his presence that drew me back to the house. Mom who draws me now. It is God’s presence I want for eternity.

Time passes and we are not to live in what was or what might have been. This is not only true in the physical realm but the spiritual realm as well.

     Paul writes in the book of Philippians: “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (3:13b-14)

     Commentary author Tony Evans states, “It’s not that you don’t remember the past; it’s that you don’t allow the past to be a controlling factor in your life. Don’t spend much time looking in the rearview mirror.” He states the way to get over the past is to have a forward focus.1

     Moving forward to me means continuously studying God’s Word whether on our own or in a Bible study with others. I have facilitated the Women’s Bible study at my church for years and am amazed at the variety of author/teachers God raises up to provide curriculum. No two are exactly alike. Each provide opportunity for new insight and growth.

     Forward momentum is exhibiting the likeness of Jesus in our actions and reactions more and more often. This happens as we walk in step with the Holy Spirit.

     Also embracing our current journey knowing God is sovereign, rather than resisting the path as if it is some sort of mistake.

     When we focus on a deeper relationship with God, learning and applying His Word, the struggles of the past fade. Things we once were not able to cope with are suddenly manageable.

Let’s Talk

1-What are your best tips for maturing spiritually?

2-Paul states in Philippians he is looking forward to what lies ahead. What do you think this is? What are you looking forward to?

Reference:

1-The Tony Evans Bible Commentary by Tony Evans. Holman Bible Publishers Nashville, Tennessee.