Are there past regrets or failures that plague your current circumstances? Do you feel you are not good enough for God? Do you feel you peaked too early in your life with past successes? Do you believe that you will always be mediocre, because that’s how you’ve always been?
It is common as human beings to dwell in our past circumstances. I know I am guilty of doing that from time to time. It seems we think that if we dwell enough in the past, then all of a sudden the past will change, and then our current circumstances will change as a result. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. You cannot change the past. The past is the past. By dwelling on the past we forget to live for today, which is where we create our future.
Forget the Past
There are two ways we tend to live in the past. First, we dwell on our successes. We all know these types of people. They talk about the good ol’ days or the glory days. “I remember it was the bottom of the 9th, the count was full, the bases were loaded, two outs, we were down three points. The pitcher threw the last pitch of the game and I swung. Crack! I hit the game winning home run and we won by one!” Or, “It was the state championship, the buzzer counted down, 3.2.1, I released the basketball from my hands as the final buzzer rang from half court, and then we won by one point.” We all know these types of people. They are always dwelling on past successes and recounting every second of that glory moment.
Here’s the problem. Sometimes, we dwell on past successes so much, that we think we can never achieve that success or greater success in the future. We think that we set the bar too high. For instance, maybe you landed what you thought was your dream job out of college. But, in the down turn you were laid off. You can either dwell on the past success of being hired at your dream job, and think to yourself, “Well, that was a once in a lifetime opportunity.” If you think that way, then you will settle for mediocrity, because that is what you think will happen in the future.
The second way we dwell in the past, and this is probably the most common, is by dwelling on our past mistakes and failures. Our past mistakes and failures haunt us like the stench of rotten garbage. We tend to dwell on the Woulda, Coulda, Shouldas. If I could go back in time, I would’ve studied harder in school, or I would’ve taken the chance to ask “so and so” out on a date. If I could go back in time, I could’ve made a better decision not to get involved in drugs and alcohol. If I could go back in time, I should’ve gone to Church and received Jesus earlier in my life. We all have our regrets and guilt that we deal with. The problem is if we dwell on our past mistakes and failures, what happens is we neglect the present that we are currently living in. We tend to say to ourselves, “I already screwed up in life.” So, we then live a mediocre life at best, because we are not making the most of every opportunity today Instead we are wasting today by reliving the past that we cannot change.
So how do we make the most of every opportunity?
We need to take the advice of Paul, and forget the past (Philippians 3:13) and look ahead to what is to come. Paul was one who could’ve bragged about his past successes (Philippians 3:3-6). He came from an influential family, he got the best education, he studied under the best rabbis, he came from an ideal Jewish tribe, he relentlessly followed the Old Testament to the point of persecuting Christians, because he believed they were contrary to the Word of God. Paul said in Philippians 3:7-11, That all of those past successes and achievements he had were “Garbage.” He said they were worthless when compared to what Jesus has done for all of us. It is okay to remember past successes, so that we can be reminded that we were able to accomplish a goal, or that we were able to succeed at something. However, we need to not dwell on our past successes, but rather know that we can do so much more through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13)
Paul also could’ve wallowed in his past failures. Paul was one of the greatest persecutors of Christians in his day. In fact, he was present at the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, and he approved of the murder (Acts 7:58-60, Acts 8:1). Paul, could’ve dwelt on his past and said, “God can’t use me. I’m worthless because of the mistakes I did.” Instead, Paul was able to say he could forget his past, and keep his eyes on Jesus, because Jesus saved him and set him free from the bondage of past sin, past regret, past guilt, past mistakes, and past failures. Jesus has set everyone free from their past, through His death and resurrection, if you choose to repent and accept Jesus. Now, we do need to remember our past, so that we learn from mistakes and failures and don’t repeat them as well. However, we need to not live in the past. Like I said earlier, the decision you made in the past cannot be changed, just like you can’t un-ring a bell. What you can do, is make the most of every opportunity today to mend past relationships, make better choices today, and look forward to the future as a clean slate.
Purge the thoughts of negativity today, and start claiming success and freedom for your present and future! (Click to Tweet)
In order to Seize the Day and Make the Most of Every Opportunity, we need to forget the past and live for today! (Click to Tweet)
Question: What past success or failure do you need to let go of, in order for you to make the most of every opportunity today?
Stay Tuned For Part 3: Remain in the Present…