Don’t let your past control your future

Photo: Gunnar Simonsen

                                                                                                                Photo: Gunnar Simonsen

I learned something very important yesterday. It’s one of those commonsense realities that when you hear it, it seems so obvious you wonder why you haven’t thought about it before. In fact, when you hear it, you think, “Big deal; I know that.” But the more reflection you engage in, you realize that you may know it, but you are not acting on it. Indeed, you are acting on something quite the opposite. What I am speaking of is simply this: the past is static; the future is dynamic.

Think about it. Everything in the past is frozen. Our memories are freeze-frames of history. We can’t change what is over and done. Oh, we might be able to re-write it for future generations, but that is just someone’s view of the past. It doesn’t change what actually happened, only how we think about it. To keep going back to the past, or to let the past define your future, is to limit yourself to a huge degree — to stay stuck in one static interpretation of your life when the future is full of possibilities and opportunities you don’t even know exist at this time. This goes both ways, by the way, if your past was awful and something you want to forget, or if it was great and something you want to go back to. Neither is possible, but both can short-circuit our thinking. My particular version of this is to have a past I want to return to.

I am often guilty of thinking I’ve lived my live backwards — as if I peaked in the ‘70s and everything has been downhill since then. That was when the Holy Spirit worked. That was when creativity flowed. That was when the gospel went forth in power. Oh really? So there’s no Holy Spirit now … no creativity … no gospel? What a debilitating way to think! What a non-faith approach to life!

And yet, we are constantly doing this, are we not — constantly comparing “now” to “then” and always calling “then” better or worse, and limiting our futures as a result? The extent to which I believe this is the extent to which I go into the future atrophied by the past.

Ah, but the past is so convenient. It always cooperates with how I want to think about it. It never challenges me — never wars with my interpretation — never disagrees with me. And it’s always there. I can complain or reminisce to my heart’s content, but in the process, I will miss whatever God has for me now, and in the future.

The future is unknown, challenging, exciting, dynamic, uncharted, and very scary. I can’t control it the way I can control the past. It won’t cooperate with me unless I continue to let the past rule and freeze myself in time.

Don’t do it. Release your hold on your life and throw the door open on the dynamic of His will for your future. I can guarantee that either way you are thinking about your past, what He has for you and I yet to discover will be better. Guaranteed.

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

That tells me one thing about my future. If I have seen it, or heard about it, or can conceive of it, it’s not what God has in mind for me.

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5 Responses to Don’t let your past control your future

  1. bobenearSeattle says:

    The Talmud teaches that God prays every day. How do we know this? Because in Isaiah 56:7, God makes reference to “my house of prayer.” The Jewish translation is slightly different and reads: “the house of my prayer.”
    …And what is God’s prayer? “May it be my will that my mercy conquer my anger, my mercy be revealed in my attributes, that I treat my children with the attribute of compassion, and I go for them beyond the bounds of strict justice.”
    God runs the world with abundant mercy. The scales are tipped heavily in our favor. While God overlooks much of what should lead to punishment, He focuses on our achievements. That’s a good lesson for how we should treat ourselves as well. If we focus on where we go wrong, we might get stuck in the muck. But if we “pass over” our mistakes – which are in the past anyway – and focus on our victories, we will be inspired to continue on a virtuous path. Let’s make amends for the past where we must, but then let’s look forward and celebrate moving onward.

    Excerpted from Holy Land Moments – God Will Pass Over You:
    http://www.holylandmoments.org/devotionals/god-will-pass-over-you

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Another good Catch Pastor John. I’m praising God for this: ““What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)” which is one of my favorite verses! 🙂
    PS again brother Bob enjoyed reading your post…

  3. Catherine says:

    Really excellent! I needed to read what you wrote today John. Thank-you so much for touching my heart with your words of wisdom! I feel God answered my prayers through your message.

  4. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

  5. Pingback: Regrets? I Have a Few | Christianity 201

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