"Forgetting The Past & Preparing For Your Future"

Our memories work in different ways. Some of us have vivid memories of childhood moments, while others of us have only vague memories of our early years. The challenge of our memories, whether they be vivid or vague, is to discern what to remember and what to forget. We’ve all been through moments we’d like to hold tight for eternity, full of joy, life, love, and satisfaction. We’ve all been through moments we wish we could forget forever, with the pain, sadness, loss, and disappointment to match.  As often as the Scriptures call us to remember as a spiritual discipline, a tool to spread the Gospel, and a source of endurance,  we cannot overlook the consistent reminders to forget. In Ecclesiastes 3, the writer teaches us that there is a time for everything under the sun including, “a time to tear down and a time to build up,” then what should we forget, and what should we remember? 

1. Forget the past that could hold you back from the future He is leading you towards

In Philippians 3:13, Paul implored the people to forget the past. “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead...” There is a temptation to get focused on the past in such a way that we are unable to follow God in all He has for us in the future. Paul warned us strongly against such a focus.

2. Forget the way God worked in the past, in order to leave room for Him to move in new ways

In Isaiah 43:14-17, God recounts the way He delivered His people from Babylonian attack. But then in verse 18, He commands them, “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” Recently, I heard Shaun Marshall say, “Sometimes the greatest barrier between us and what God wants to do is the last thing God did. We end up becoming more loyal to what God did than to God himself.” 

3. Forget the life you left behind in order to follow Jesus. 

In the final part of Luke 9, Jesus invites a number of individuals to follow Him. Each makes an excuse about why they can’t right then and there. In his final comment on these conversations, Jesus said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” There is a very real temptation to hold on to and remember the cost of following Jesus, but Jesus reminded His followers to look forward, not back. It’s impossible to talk about forgetting without talking about remembering. They are two sides of the same coin. In choosing to remember, we reject the option to forget. In choosing to forget, we abandon the path of remembering. So, if we forget what God calls us to forget, we also need to remember what God calls us to remember. In fact, it is in remembering what God calls us to remember that we become equipped and empowered to forget what God calls us to forget.

1. Remember God’s promises and His character as a promise-keeper.

After he talked about forgetting what was behind in Philippians 3, Paul went on to say, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Paul focused his attention on the promise of God, a heavenly prize, and God’s character as one who keeps his promise. Paul remembered his calling from God and put behind him everything else, forgetting what might distract his divine pursuit. 

2. Remember that God is doing a new thing - don’t miss it!

After talking about forgetting His past great acts, God told the people (via Isaiah), “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” We all know what it’s like to miss something because we’re busy or distracted. The worst thing to miss because we were distracted by the old is the new thing God is doing. Don’t miss out on how God is already at work in your present and into your future because you’re fixated on the past. 

3. Remember what Jesus promised to those who lost their life for His sake. 

While some couldn’t forget what they left behind to follow Jesus, Jesus called them to instead remember His promises. Consider these words from Jesus in Matthew 19:29 to His disciples. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” Jesus told them to remember his promises, which when fulfilled will far eclipse whatever they left behind. Do not fear anymore. Praise to the Lord of living waters.” I think that’s the real struggle of forgetting and remembering. We are afraid that our best days are our past days and our next days will be our worst days. We are afraid that God won’t keep His promises and what we left to follow Jesus was better than what He has for us. This is why we return to God’s word daily and we fill our hearts and minds with songs and hymns that root us in the truth. This is why we gather with other believers and experience a strengthening of our courage and resolve. This is why we remember how God moved in our past and the past of others. When fear comes in, we praise the Lord of living waters together, so that we can forget what’s behind and forge ahead for what God has for us. Forget what is behind, remember what lies ahead, and press on today!


Related Scripture

Philippians 3:13 NIV

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,


Isaiah 43:14-19 NIV

14 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,

The Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I will send to Babylon,
And bring them all down as fugitives—
The Chaldeans, who rejoice in their ships.

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”

16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse,
The army and the power
(They shall lie down together, they shall not rise;
They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."


Luke 9:62 NKJV

62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.


Matthew 19:29 NIV

29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.


Related Prayer

Father God,

how desperately we need You to be present with us.  We have given power to the wrong thing in our lives: our past.  We have allowed things that no longer matter to define who we are.  We have set out on the wrong path and we need You (Father God) to correct our course of life. Show us Your presence and your glory (Father God).  Show us the loving Father who is always good and whose love for His children never fails. Be who You are Lord, the Savior who will always find His lost sheep and will never stop looking for those who are lost.  Always be near, dear Lord. Show us Your perfect love (Father God). We kneel before You in humble submission (Father God) and pray that in Your mercy and kindness You would help us to simply let go of all the fears and worries, problems and doubts, guilt and disappointments that seem to be filling our heart and mind so often, during the course of a day. (Father God) Please fill our hurting soul with Your love and peace . (Father God) Fill the emptiness and pain that is tearing our life asunder. Lord, You know what is in our heart and why we are going through this time of fear and worry. Help us dear Lord, to take every thought captive, to hand it over to You as it rears up in our mind, and help us to replace it with thoughts and words of Scripture that tell of Your great might and wonderful power. Lord God, You have told us to think about whatever is lovely and pure and holy and good, and we pray that You would help us to turn the eyes of our heart upon Your Son, Jesus, and look to Him day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute and second by second for our peace, comfort, strength and righteous future.

In Jesus's Holy Name,