We all have a past. Some people’s pasts are very colorful, some are not. Some people’s pasts are riddled with mistakes and mishaps, while others seem to have no trouble following the rules. Some have pasts that are muddled with the chaos of addictions, while others appear to try drugs and walk away unscathed. Some bear the scars of past abuse, while there are those who, somehow, seem to live in a perfect world. It doesn’t matter if our pasts are shaped by the hands of others, or are the result of our own doing, either way we are the ones who suffer the consequences. We have a choice though! We can be defined or refined by our past!
Paul writes this in Philippians 3:13-14, “No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.” I’ve told y’all before and I’ll say it again, I ain’t no bible scholar, but I’m going to tell y’all what I think.
Everyone always loves to emphasize the part of that scripture that talks about forgetting the past, that’s a grand thought right? I know there are things in my past that I’d love to forget! Like the time I was in Walmart and thought I had to poot. Why not right? I mean, there was no one else around. Well, it didn’t take long to realize I’d ‘done myself a solid‘, and I’m not referring to a favor. There was nothing favorable about that! Or what about the time I got caught shoplifting? I could go on and on. Y’all know I’m being funny, but seriously, there are things in everyone’s past that we wish we could forget, but unfortunately forgetting is not an option; unless that is, when it pertains to where I’ve left my phone or my keys Can I get an amen? What I’m trying to say is, our past never leaves us! No one ever really forgets the things they’ve done, or what’s happened to them, and neither does anyone else who happens to know! But here’s why some people overcome their pasts and others don’t. People who overcome allow their pasts to REFINE them, while others become victims and allow their pasts to DEFINE them.
*Define- state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.
*Refine- with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing.
I don’t believe for one minute that Paul was telling people to never think about their past. Doesn’t the bible say, in Revelation 12:11, that we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony? If our past is forgotten we don’t have a testimony! I believe Paul meant that we should forget what the enemy says about our past!! For instance when the enemy starts calling you names like thief, slut,worthless, used, liar, good for nothin’, loser, poo-poo pants, dropout, stupid, druggie, trash, or ugly, you tell him he’s a liar and a deceiver and that whatever you were in your past has been restored and redeemed thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Or maybe you’ve been told all your life that you’ll never amount to anything, or you’re just like your dad (or whoever the ‘bad’ person is) or you can never do this or that because of your past. If anyone says anything close to that to you, you tell them that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, and that God loves to used jacked up people!
Look y’all, it’s not about forgetting the things that’s happened or the things we’ve done! It’s about forgetting what we could’ve been as a result of sin! It’s about allowing God to use you to help others who’ve been, or are, in your shoes! We can’t leave the past in the past, but we can chose to allow our pasts to REFINE, and not DEFINE who we are! We can give God the glory for taking us through the fire and right on into victory, scars and all! We can stop the devil right in his tracks by allowing God to use our pasts for His glory! You are not your past! Your past is what God will use to raise you up and glorify His name!
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:19-20