Updated on January 6, 2014
life happens: God the Redeemer…
God the Redeemer When I’m Stuck in the Past
Experiences shape life. Good, bad, indifferent—your life experiences have an impact on who you are today and who you will be tomorrow. Yet, sometimes, it feels like past experiences rule the current day. The understandings, or lack thereof, regarding those experiences centers itself in the middle of your thinking—not always, but certainly more often than you would like.
You try to forget the past, to “move on”, but you feel stuck.
So what does God want us to do with our past? Are we to forget it? A search of scripture reveals sixty-four references to forget or forgetting. Considering the total number of books in the Bible is sixty-six, the number of references to forgetting is rather small. However, they are there. Does God want us to forget the past? What about people who do not have hard memories? Are they to forget? Are we to have selective forgetfulness?
Read Philippians 3:12-14. What stands out to you?
There are two main actions in this scripture: forgetting and pressing on. But what does “forgetting” mean? It is important to understand forgetting in the greater context of scripture. Sometimes the best way to understand forgetting is to look at the opposite instead: remembering. What does God say about remembering?
Read Joshua 3:12 through Joshua 4:7. What stands out to you?
The people of Israel had spent forty years in the desert, eating manna and water. Circle upon circle had been tread by tired, dusty feet. Millions of people walked a great number of miles over several decades.
According to the passage in Joshua, did God tell them to forget that experience?
God reframed the entire experience. God did not say “Remember how you disobeyed and refused to go into the Promised Land 40 years ago?” God did not say, “Remember all that manna?” Instead, God reframed the experience to where it should be: remember how He delivered you.
Read Exodus 13:3. Just after being released by Pharaoh, what did Moses command the people with regard to remembering that day?
Again, the remembering was not about the bondage, it was about the deliverance of the Lord.
Read Exodus 12:12-14. Describe the events in this passage.
In verse 14, how does God tell His people to remember the events?
What are the differences between how you described the events and how God described them?
Despite the difficulties, God cuts to the core of the situation. Each time, He points to how the events memorialized Him, showed His power, and resulted in His glory.
What stands in the way of you memorializing God in your memories of the past?
Review the sections of scripture again. Prayerfully ask God how He would have you view your past. Write what you learn.
Review Philippians 3:12-14. Remembering the events of your life as God desires will help you move forward. Forgetting what is behind is far more about remembering God’s hand in the situation, or the deliverance, than it is about rehashing the details. God did not ask the Israelites to rehash their time in the desert. He told them to remember Him.
Review your life and those moments or events that you cannot seem to get past. Prayerfully ask God how He would like you to remember them. Write those remembrances below.
Each time one of these memories crops up in your mind, review how God would like you to remember them. Implant His perspective in your heart, and you will find the strength and ability to press on.
Memorize Philippians 3:12-14.