Thursday, September 6, 2018
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Oh, it was a happy day for our then one-year-old granddaughter! It was a milestone day. I mean, ever since she started riding in the car with her parents, she had been in the back seat in her infant seat, facing backward – just like the safety folks recommend you should do. Her Mom and Dad travel a lot of miles, and so even as a little girl, she saw a lot of country as it was going by. But not then! No, not anymore! Not after she got twenty pounds. Yeah, she weighed twenty pounds, the magic threshold. When you get to twenty pounds, you reach that great milestone. Mom and Dad turn your seat around and you get to see where you're going instead of where you've been.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Joy of Facing Forward."
Our granddaughter was much happier looking forward than when she was looking backward. You will be, too. Sadly, too many of us spend a whole lot of our life looking at where we've already been. You know, dwelling on the past, rehearsing those past hurts, past slights, and past injustices. And we can spend a lot of time looking backward – not just at things that have been done to us, but at things we've done. We keep rewinding those past failures, and past sins, and past mistakes. We can't seem to ever close the chapters that are already behind us. So, they're not over for us because, well, we keep dragging the past into our present and our future.
Maybe our word for today from the Word of God is for you at this point of life – an encouragement to face the other direction – to trade in despair for hope. Isaiah 43:18-19 – God gets right to the bottom line: "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? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." In other words, "Hey, stop looking backward – focus on the road ahead." Why? Because the past can't be changed. So, focusing on what can't be changed can only lead to paralyzing self-pity, shame, bitterness, despair, and depression. Focusing on the past is a recipe for hopelessness.
And God says, "If you keep dwelling on the past, you're going to miss the whole new thing I'm trying to do in your life!" This isn't living in denial – that means you've never faced the ugly things in your past, and frankly, there's no conquering them until you face them. But if you just keep dredging them up over and over, you're missing so much of what God wants to be doing in your life now.
I want to encourage you, on behalf of the Lord of new beginnings, to make today the day that you choose to finally close that dark old chapter. That may require forgiving someone who has wronged you – not because they deserve it, any more than you and I deserved Jesus' forgiveness. You'll do it because Jesus commanded us to follow His example and release that person by forgiving them – leaving them to God to make it right, committing to treat them, not the way they treated you, but the way Jesus treated you. Closing the old chapter may mean claiming forgiveness for yourself; for the sins and the failures you just continue to replay. You stake everything on Jesus' promise – "I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more" (Hebrews 8:12). Jesus said that. If you've been to Jesus' cross with the sin of your past, it is no longer an issue to the One who died for that sin. So, who are you to keep unburying it over and over?
You've been a slave to your past long enough. Let this be the day you claim a fresh new beginning from the Lord Jesus. Release all the darkness and pain of your past to the One who died to liberate you from it. And focus on all the new things God is birthing right in front of you.
You know that little girl in the car seat that has faced both ways. Well, we can all learn something from her. You'll be a whole lot happier looking at what's ahead of you than what's already behind you!