“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
Have you ever read The Hobbit? Or seen the movie Sleeping Beauty? I think our past is like the dragon in both of those movies: asleep, but waiting for the opportune moment to rear its head and trap us in its cave or burn us with its fire.
I’ve definitely felt this lately. I actually hate endings. I’m the person who wants to stay up all night talking at the sleepover, starts a new project before finishing the old one, and will wave at you until your car goes officially out of sight.
Everyone has a past, but I think what’s problematic is if we let our past define us.
When that bad memory, bad habit, or person who hurt us comes back around, what do we do? Do we let it affect our whole day? Do we start to feel that our situation can never change? That were stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy? I know I’ve definitely done this many times.
I feel like the Lord has been putting the verse above on my heart more than ever in the past few months. Maybe because it’s the beginning of the year and He wants me to prepare for what’s next. Maybe because I almost let the dragons of my past get the best of me. If you feel like you connect with this verse too, here’s what might help:
Whatever it is that caused you to feel that dragon rise up--a past relationship, a bad habit, a memory of your life before Christ, or a passing comment from an old friend, surrender it to the Lord right now. Give it to Him. Tell Him how it made you feel. Put it right at the foot of the cross.
Now, I encourage you to pray, “Lord, I thank You that You have redeemed my past. That this is not the end of my story. That You always finish what You start. I thank You that because I am in Christ, I am new and Your mercies are always new for me. Amen.”
Now, you can tell that dragon of your past, “BYE BYE. You don’t define me. I am set free in Jesus' name.”
Do what you need to do to press on.
Paul talks about how we haven’t arrived yet, but that we need to strain toward what’s ahead. Not because we need to win, but because the Lord has already won and he has something great in store for us in our future.
Whether you need to say goodbye to people who are not sharpening your faith, repent for sin, reignite your fire for the Lord, or run away from temptation, press on. We’re all cheering for you and if you need someone, please reach out to people you trust.
Our past is always going to be a part of our story. But if we have Jesus, we know our present reality and our ending.
He’s never going to leave us. He sees us as clothed in righteousness. He wants to renew our mind and give us good, pleasing, and perfect thoughts. Now we have to choose, “Are we going to dwell on the dragon of our past? Are we going to try to fight it in our own strength? Or are we going to let him fight for us?”
I think we all know who’s going to win.
~ Soquel Filice