Summary: It is a new year. Find the blessings!
Don’t Look Back!
As I get older, I am positive that time is moving faster. I kid people at work that I do not know why we look so forward to the weekend. Saturdays only last about 30 minutes and Sundays about 15 and then we are back at work again. We wish away five days of our life for two that go by so quickly. Except for really stressful weeks even those five days whiz by in a blur.
Years seem to last six months. I am looking at 50 knowing that if the Lord tarries and lets me live I will be staring at 60 before I know it. I still feel 18 in my mind and it seems like I went to sleep 18 and woke up 49. My body shows the wear and tear of those years, but my spirit does not comprehend such a quick passage of three decades!! If I live to be fourscore and ten I am still in the fall of my life. Spring and summer went so quickly and soon it will be New Years Day in eternity as the day of my death will be December 31st for my life here.
We spend a lot of time reflecting on New Year’s Day and making resolutions that might last a week or month. Often we spend too much time reflecting and burden down our future by carrying too much of the past into it. The song is correct when it says, "there’s no future in the past" as well as the one that says we need to stop "digging up bones, exhuming things that are better left alone."
A lot of Christians are looking back on last year with deep regrets. Their lives were not what they wanted them to be. Their service to God was spotty at best and then only because of selfish intents. Like David, they are in a position where their sins are over their head and they wonder why God allowed them to live to see a New Year. There were heartaches last year. There were trials and tribulations. It was a very rough year for them. They are not looking forward to the future. Let’s see what Paul says about the past and the future.
13 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,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
When I was saved, I asked God to make me a Peter or a Paul. I wanted to be the best Christian ever. Well, I am like Peter and Paul at least in their weaknesses, which is not what I had in mind. Instead of best Christian ever, I can stand next to Paul as the Assistant Chief of Sinners. Paul being Chief is fine as he earned that title before salvation, but here he is 30 years later and saying that he has not apprehended or in our terms reached his goal.
Paul didn’t reach his goal? Many would despair thinking that if Paul did not make it I certainly have no chance. Actually, that is our very inspiration to follow what he is telling us to do in this passage. Paul was seeking to be like Christ and experience all the suffering of Christ while walking in the power of Christ’s resurrection. Christ said to follow Him taking up our crosses and He would make us fishers of men. That is a high calling. That is a long range goal that will take the rest of our lives, but one day we will indeed be like Him for we are predestined to be conformed to His image. (Rom 8:29)
Paul did not bemoan any of his lack of being perfect like Christ or wail over wasted years or opportunities. He knew that would be a waste of more time. You cannot fix the past. You cannot change it. It is what it is and all you can do is rejoice that the mercies of God were new every morning of that past and if you are saved covered by the blood of Christ and forgiven in Him.
The thing about the past is that you probably do not remember all the things you messed up. Our minds are deceitful and we may cover up some things or conveniently forget some things. As we age, we just flat forget period. That is why 1 John 1:9 says that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sins. I believe it is speaking of all types of unrighteousness, but also that if we take care of what we know for certain God will use that attitude of heart to take care of any that we missed due to our human frailty. Besides, as David said, if the Lord was marking or counting iniquities who would stand? (Psalm 130:3) That is why salvation is not of works. What a drag to have confessed all your sins except one and go to Hell especially if that sin was committed when you were 18 and you lived to 98. Praise Him that He is a God of mercy and that He is our Redeemer and we are not our own redeemers.