Go Back In Time
Think back to a time when you were in your most pain. Think about things right now that are being disrupted because of your past experience. Many of you right now are going through many different challenges, trials, and frustrations because the past is still in the present. Many of you can’t move on in relationships, jobs, or family because there is something in the past that is holding you hostage in the present. Future relationships will suffer if you do not deal with the issues of the past properly. Many of the fights you have with your spouse right now are probably tied to something in the past that you are allowing to affect the present relationship.
How do we move from a place where tomorrow is not a slave to yesterday? Where today is free, and we can serve, anticipating tomorrow instead of being afraid of it? How do we move from a place where we are not in bondage to the past? I would like to suggest to you four principles that can help you deal with the past.
Principle # 1: Seek to Overcome Past Desires in the Present
In order to deal with the past, you must not be consumed with desires from past experiences (Numbers 11: 1-6). For instance, perhaps you were in a situation where you lacked the security, support, or safety you craved. As a result of not having these, perhaps you suffered great harm. Your desire now for these things you treasured in the past shapes your perception, decisions, and actions towards people, places, and things in the present. Consequently, your relationship with others is impacted by these desires—desires you treasure above God and the relationship.
You must begin to adjust your desires to fit your situation. Accept that God may not allow you to have what you want right now at the level you desire it. Seek to enjoy what God is allowing you to have while obeying God in the responsibilities He has given you. Accept His sufficiency above your preoccupation with protecting yourself and providing for yourself.
You must place these desires in their proper place. They must not master you (1Corinthians 6:12). Instead loving God and loving others must become your preoccupation which will begin to bring more satisfaction to you than your past desires ever could.
Principle # 2: View God According to His Character and Not According to Your Past
In order to deal with the past, you must view God according to His present character instead of your past experience (Genesis 50:15-20). Your view of God shapes your decisions concerning every problem you encounter. If you truly embrace the facts that God is in control, He knows the best course of action to bring about His glory and your greatest good, and God always has your best interest at heart, it could change your perspective of the past.
Rather than focusing on questions such as why God wasn’t there, or why He allowed certain things to happen; focus on asking how God is using that experience to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ? What other people meant for evil against you, God meant for good for you. You are promised that God will cause all things to work together for your good (Romans 8:28).
It may have felt like He was not there, or He couldn’t make something good out of it. But the reality is God can, and He will make something good out of something terrible. God does not waste pain in our lives. Through the pain of your past, God is seeking to develop spiritual maturity in your life in the present resulting in your knowing Him intimately, becoming like Him, and being useful to Him practically (Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:28-30, James 1:1-5, John 15:1-11).
Principle # 3: Confess Present Sin from Past Experiences
In order to deal with the past, you must confess and repent of present sinful attitudes, words, and actions toward past experiences (Proverbs 28:13-14). Look at the sinful belief system you have developed towards God and others as a result of the past and acknowledge it to God while turning away from it and replacing it with the right belief system (Romans 12:2-3). You must identify your present ungodly ways of speaking, which developed from the past experience, and turn away from it (Ephesians 4:29). If there is sarcasm, criticism, or just plain old negativism in relation to your conversations about the past, confess it, and replace it with thanksgiving and praise for God and His plan (1Thessalonians 5:18).
You must identify your present ungodly actions, which have developed from the past experience, and turn away from them. Look at the way you act around people as a result of your past experience. Are you unloving or unkind? Confess, repent, and replace those actions with kindness, and politeness. Freedom comes as we deal with the sin properly instead of rationalizing and justifying ourselves. We must fess up where we messed up, let go, and move on!
Principle # 4: Pursue the Future Prize in Christ
In order to deal with the past, you must pursue the prize of being with and knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:7-14). You must consider the treasure of this life as nothing compared to knowing Christ. What you want from the past cannot compare to what Christ will provide in the future. The pain you have been running from cannot compare to the pleasure you can run to with Christ Jesus in the present. Wanting someone from the past to treat you right can’t compare to God treating you right forever in paradise. Consumed with wishing the way things could have been if the person would not have done what he or she did will not compare to what it will be like in Heaven with Christ Jesus.
You must set your mind on things above instead of things below (Colossians 3:1-4). If you don’t do this, you will find yourself disobedient and unloving in the present towards God and others because of past experiences. You must let go of preoccupation with past accomplishments, rewards, and experiences and pursue the hope of the new life in Christ (Philippians 3:13-14). Until you run the race set before you by God and pursue that which is ahead of you instead of that which is behind you, there will be a disconnect between you, God, and others. You must enjoy what God has provided now without being consumed with what you believed you lacked in the past.
God has called us to a higher calling, He is moving us to a higher place; He is taking us somewhere that we have never been before, and He is giving us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Let go of the past, and pursue Him for the future. Rest assured that it will change your outlook, your attitude, and your actions towards God and others.
Join the Conversation
What issues of the past are challenging you in the present? How can you apply these four wisdom principles to your life?