Thursday, June 25, 2009

Leave It Behind

by Donna L. Watkins

None pass through life without causing pain somewhere and making many mistakes along the way.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Canada Geese on Lake - Lebanon, PA
Parents are often burdened with guilt related to something to do with parenting, a job that one rarely gets any preparatory training for and one that cannot be done perfectly. Siblings carry guilt about things they've done as children to other brothers and sisters. Missed business opportunities haunt and life's common mistakes torment our minds.

Life hurts. It's a fact of life. We pass through with injuries and wounds and it requires forgiveness and mercy to weather the storms well. If we don't apply a healing balm, we'll have deep scars that threaten to mar our vision of today and the future.

What does God say about these things? We are told to leave the past behind us and run the race before us. We must learn from our mistakes. Consider the wrong Paul did to the Christians when he was Saul of Tarsus. I often wondered how he could put all that behind him. Burning and stoning Christians with an all-out vengeance for eliminating them. What an astounding vision of how we can accept God's forgiveness and grace. Paul's life is an example of how we can turn about and leave the past behind and make the future good.

Let go of what you've done to others. When the offended party has no desire to forgive or offer mercy, the load of guilt seems to be double the weight. If Paul can let go of the persecution he caused the church, you can let go of whatever you have marked up as wrong choices in your life. Learn from them. Mistakes are classrooms for learning. Take the lesson and move on. Carl Bard says, "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."

Ask for forgiveness where you can and it is appropriate. Make amends where you can in reasonable proportion. If the offended one is not willing to let go and move on with their own life, that is not your problem. That is not your fault! By asking for reconciliation and forgiveness, you open the doorway for them to remove this burden from their life also. God will heal all, but it is a choice, and they may not choose the freedom path that you do.

Guilt is the burden of the devil to keep our lives from amounting to anything for God. It can consume the mind and life like a fire consumes paper. All that is left at life's end is ashes. What will there be to be said about us if we waste our lives in guilt and sorrow over events of the past.

No one is exempt from trials and tribulations, mistakes and errors of life. It's how you finish the race that matters, not the pitfalls you've had in the process. John Maxwell says, "You can spend your life any way you want, but you can spend it only once."

No one can destroy you without your permission and cooperation. It's not what "they" do to you that determines your outcomes, it's what YOU do next.

Confession, not remorse, brings God's forgiveness and newness of life. God is the God of second chances. He can make up for "the years that the locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25). Believe in Him and His mercy and power. He can place you where you would've been had the opportunity never been lost. Ask God for a new dream, then "forget those things which are behind and move forward to those things which are ahead" (Philippians 3:13).

Have you considered that making the right choice may give them the only vision and example of how they can get out of their prison of the past also. Set your sights forward to the future and in doing so, you may be able to release healing into their lives too.

When the "there and then" gets into the "here and now" you've got to turn to the future. Isaiah 43:18 says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" Your past will infect today and every day of your future if you allow it. Choose to let go and move forward with an eye on the possibilities and purpose God has for you.

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