For many of us, the beginning of another year means a fresh start, but for many others, it means staying stuck in the past. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but how we handle them determines whether or not we can move on with our lives. Dwelling on what happened months, or even years, ago is not only painful, but counterproductive. God wants us to look ahead so we can see future opportunities with which He wants to bless us.
The enemy wants to constantly remind us of our shortcomings and the times we missed the mark. The devil’s strategy is designed to hold us back by getting us to focus on any bad things that may have happened. He makes our situations appear hopeless and tells us there’s no way out, but God always makes an escape route for those who trust Him.“This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters,…‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’” (Isaiah 43:16, 18, 19, NIV). Things are not always what they appear to be on the surface.
Sometimes, just like the children of Israel did in the Old Testament, we can have a tendency to complain and mutter about the troubles we face. We can look at things from our past that shame us, and wonder if anything will ever change. God promises us deliverance, but first we must put one foot in front of the other and move forward. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:15, 16).
The apostle Paul had plenty of baggage from his past that could have kept him from moving forward, but he refused to let it sabotage his future. He chose, instead, to focus on what lay ahead, regardless of what others may have said about him.“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14). For Paul, staying stuck in the past would have prevented him from answering God’s call on his life. It’s the same for us.
On our Christian walk, we sometimes encounter mountains that seem to block our way. The natural way of handling challenges is to stop at that point, and remain there so long it seems like we’re camping there. God tells us quite plainly to continue moving forward. “The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain’” (Deuteronomy 1:6, NIV). We need to take the supernatural route, and we succeed in doing that when we refuse to let fear stop us from reaching our destination.
We’ve been born again, and things from the past that once held power over us are now gone. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As believers, the power to move on is ours. God is calling us, and we must answer.