How We’re Learning
by Ginger Harrington
Free from the past
Four years ago a few women met to talk about big dreams, casting a vision for the future. With our eyes on God, we prayed and planned, reaching toward a calling far too big for anything we could accomplish on our own.
As we began to move forward, it took faith to imagine the dream was possible. This was the January day that Planting Roots became more than an idea. This was the beginning of a God-sized adventure.
For me personally, this opportunity came during a season of discouragement. Fear and anxiety had been frequent visitors robbing me of peace in too many military transitions. Tempted to hold back, I realized I didn’t want to play it safe, continuing to carry the regrets of the past. As a new calling inspired a new direction, these words from Philippians 3 spoke life and courage to my soul:
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, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.—Philippians 3:13-14 NLT
Single-minded focus begins with our thoughts, but also includes our priorities. I’m discovering there is a mental and spiritual discipline to making the choice to let go of the things that keep us from moving forward. Today defines the distance between yesterday and tomorrow, and it is faith that fills the gap.
Many of our past things are good, blessings like a great duty station, a welcoming neighborhood, a successful work environment, a promotion, good health, or happy kids. But on our hard days, we need to remember that mistakes made in the past do not have to dictate the future. Feelings of shame, discouragement, or guilt based on past history do not have to weigh us down, making it hard to move forward.
Focusing on the past is walking backwards into the future.
Here’s what I’m learning: Courage and freedom are not found in the past. They are gifts for the present, received when we keep our focus and priority on following God. Between past and future, we have this decision in our hands today—the choice to trust God and rely on His provision as we make our next steps, decisions, and plans.
What could this year look like for you if you focus on the priority of God’s call for your life? He offers a divine invitation to be free from the thoughts, beliefs, habits, and actions that tempt us to stay stuck rather than stretch forward in faith.
God’s upward call includes His desire for each of us to be free from the past by relying on Christ to lead us forward. For this day and this year, let’s be intentional with our thoughts, goals, and desires.
By faith, receive courage to do what is right and to live with joy in the midst of your circumstances by facing forward and pressing on to that one thing that makes all the difference. Relying on Christ is one holy choice for every moment. Let this truth fortify your heart with courage to let go of the past and embrace the future.
Because we’re forgiven. . .
Because we’re loved. . .
Because we’re free. . .
We can be brave, knowing we have the power of God leading us on.
How to Move Forward When You Feel Stuck:
Evaluate your focus—where are you directing your attention?
- Don’t let the past consume your focus today.
- See your future in light of the promises of God.
- Press on by relying on Christ each day.
- Do the next thing God asks of you.
Prayerfully consider if you are holding on to something from your past that keeps you from moving forward in faith. What is one thing you can do today to trust God with your future?
Lord, show me any area of life where I am looking to the past in a way that hinders my growth in Christ. Today, I choose to focus forward with my attention and faith centered on You.
Verses to Ponder:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.—Matthew 6:33 NASB