Why do we spend time viewing our past through the side-mirror of life?
Or, like the fine print on the bottom of the side-mirrors of our cars, when we think the past has been dealt with and put to rest, we glance off to the sidelines, expecting something positive, but the reminder glares back “objects in the (side) mirror (of life) are closer than they appear” and these words are right. The past is right there, closer to today than we realize, tainting our present day living, tainting our perspectives toward relationships, toward success, toward failure, toward future choices and, most importantly, toward ourselves.
So how do we truly put the “past,” in its proper place? Paul tells us in Philippians, chapter 3, verse 13, to “forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead…” If anyone has a right to speak of forgetting the past, it’s Paul.
Let’s remember that Paul was originally called Saul. Saul lived his life with a zeal and passion for God. So much so, his zeal led him to persecuting the early Christians until he was confronted by Jesus himself. Saul was passionately doing what he thought was right in God’s eyes, only to find that he was passionately wrong; he spent a portion of his life murdering his fellow brothers and sisters. Try living with these memories.
After Saul’s encounter with Jesus, he changed his name to Paul, he faced the truth of his actions, and he gave up all of his earthly rights. Saul was a person held in high esteem; a man of pedigree but Paul chose to be one of them; a follower of Christ, someone held in low esteem. Imagine looking into this side-mirror of life, where the past not only held the reality of wrong choices but also held the position of power and prestige.
Our pasts may be like Paul’s, filled with wrong choices, painful memories, and opportunity for “earthly” greatness. However, like Paul, we must look straight into the side-mirror and say, “in light of Christ, the past is rubbish!”
There’s the key. In Philippians, chapter 3, verses 3 through 11, Paul tells us “to give up the past is worth gaining Christ.” Our past, whether before conversion, or from yesterday, if we allow it, helps us know Christ, more passionately and more deeply, in His fullness, just as Saul’s past led him to Christ.
Reaching forward is likened to a runner straining with every muscle in his body toward the goal. To forget the past we must make a trade. We trade the past for a goal, something to reach for, to grasp, and win like a trophy. What’s your prize, your goal?
Paul’s was the “knowledge of Christ.” This isn’t merely an intellectual attainment, but an experiential knowledge resulting in an intimate communion with Christ. Paul realized this pursuit involved two things, experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit at work within him and participating with Christ in suffering, all wrapped in the promise of everlasting life.
So, what’s this mean to us, like Paul, we should remember we trade our past for Christ; therefore, today I will focus on knowing Christ more intimately, recognizing I will suffer; life is not easy and there will be times of pain, sacrifice, and heartache. However, I am never alone for in pursuing Christ, His resurrection power is at work within me.
Evident, when I am able to glance away from the race and see the side-mirror of my life, my past, and my past is silenced, as I declare, “I count all of it (the past) as rubbish for I know my Savior and His love.”
All Rights Reserved. 2012. Text and images may not be copied or reproduced without permission from the photographer and the author, Mary Armstrong.