Philippians 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
There’s an old saying, “an elephant never forgets.” Some people use it on their kids to remind them that even an elephant would remember what happened or to grab his coat. Sure elephants have great memory, but what in the world does an elephant have to remember? Let’s see, did I eat today? Did I give myself a bath? The list is pretty short. If I could count on my hand the things I was supposed to remember, I would never forget either!
But we have lot’s of things we are supposed to remember. It requires a calendar to keep it all straight. Add kids into the mix and you are surely doomed when it comes to remembering all the things of life. But it’s not so much the details that we remember for a long time, it’s the best times of our life and the worst times of our life. Those are the things that really stick. Very few people can remember riding their bike in June when they were six. But many people remember riding it for the first time. Even more people remember crashing.
Which is an odd phenomenon when it comes to memory. It seems we tend to remember more of the bad stuff than the good stuff. The wonderful things that our spouse does get lost, but the things that made us mad stick around a while. Why is this? Why do we remember our mistakes, our shortcomings, and our sin at a greater rate than we remember our victories? It’s not right, I tell you!
Here in Philippians 3, Paul tells us that if we are going to run a successful race, we are going to need to let go of that past. Paul certainly had a past – he was a murderer of Christians. That certainly doesn’t go well on a preacher’s resume! But if he would have dwelled on that, it would have been impossible for him to move forward with an effective calling on his life. Focusing on the past sins, mistakes, and hurts would have just kept him captive to guilt and condemnation.
That’s really what focusing on the past does – it keeps us captive. Our past failures hold us back and keep us from moving forward effectively in our walk with Christ. The only solution is to move from the past into the present. We’ve got to forget about it. We can’t be like elephants when it comes to the memories. If we insist on remembering, we won’t be able to walk free. The solution? Cast it all on the Lord. Do this today: take a few moments and ask God to show you what you have been holding on to. Search your heart and find the past failures that are defining your present and your future. Then let go of them once and for all. If you need to repent, ask God for forgiveness. Then ask Him to help you forget. Ask Him to usher your mind into the present and what He wants to do in your life today. He isn’t held back by your past and you shouldn’t be either.