In ancient Rome, it was taught that there was a man with two faces, one in front and one in back. They taught their children about him, placed a picture of him on a coin, and even built a temple where people could honor and worship him. His name was Janus, and they named the first month of the year, January, after him. With two faces, they said, he could look forward and backward at the same time.
Of course, no person with two faces ever lived. God made us with one face, in front, because He wants us to look ahead. As one has correctly observed, "Life can be understood by looking backward, but it must be lived by looking forward."
The Apostle Paul had a past he was not proud of. Yet, to the church at Philippi, he said about himself, "...one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13 and 14). He portrays himself as a runner on life's race course, and he would not allow anything, not even his past, to prevent him from reaching his goal. The word he used for "forgetting" is a strong one. It means "completely forgetting." The lesson is, when we dwell on our past sins and failures, our progress is hindered.
During General Colin Powell's tenure as U.S. Secretary of State, he discovered that a speech he had made to the United Nations had been based, in part, on wrong information. In his long and distinguished career, this was a low point and a blot on his record. In an interview, he said, "I'm disappointed. I'm sorry it happened, and wish those who knew better had spoken up at the time, but there isn't anything else I can say about it." Instead of being chained by the past, Mr. Powell said he had chosen to "focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror" of life.
We all have something in our past that we regret doing. It may have been an honest mistake, a moral failure, or a foolish decision. However, while the past remains part of our lives, it doesn't have to determine our future. Because of God's wisdom and forgiveness (Psalm 130: 3 and 4), we can focus on the future with hope. As one ably stated, "It's better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and despair."
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida, 34654