These last couple weeks have been full of major milestones in the lives of our children. First we had Emma’s preschool graduation, time for big girl school! Then my beautiful step-daughter, known around here as Kiki, graduated from high school. Next up were the two 5th graders, Peyton & Autumn, who celebrated their final year of elementary school with a promotion ceremony. We small town Southerners like to celebrate every step!
Each program was different but they each held the same theme. It’s time to move forward. The kids were encouraged to leave the things of their previous years behind, to use them as a learning experience and to embrace what their futures held for them at the next stage of life. It was funny to me how the same message could apply to a 5 year old, 11 year olds and a 17 year old!
Then I got to thinking how we go through many “graduations” in our lives; again, the message often being the same. When we move through the various stages of our lives, we have to leave behind the former things and focus on what’s to come. However, we become so consumed by things of our past, that our present is neglected and our future seems nonexistent.
While we are young, we can make the mistake of living a care-free life, using the excuse that we are young and just want to have a good time before the responsibilities of adulthood kick in. Scripture warns us:
“Don’t let the excitement of your youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor Him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”
(Ecclesiastes 12:1 NLT)
As we get older and make the common mistakes that teens and early twenty-somethings often do, we can allow the shame and embarrassment of those mistakes to haunt us. We can become gripped by fear that someone from our past will pop-up in our present and cause those in our lives now to look down on us with disdain. Don’t worry, there is a Word for that too:
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…”
(Isaiah 54:4 NIV)
Now you’re an adult and you’ve blown it big time. You had a child out of wedlock, you’re divorced, you filed bankruptcy, you had an affair…this list could rattle on forever. You are so wrapped up in the mistake that you made that the future looks dim at best and insignificant at worst. Try this approach:
“…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on…”
(Philippians 3:13 NLT)
No matter what season of life you currently find yourself in, there is no sense in living in your past. You must graduate on to the next thing God has in store for you. Even if your past holds no regrets or mistakes; (first of all, you’re fooling yourself, we ALL have something lingering from our past where we’d like a redo); you can’t live off your past victories either. This may very well be one of if not the best “life” Scriptures:
“But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT)
The point being, if you are so busy looking back, you’re going to miss what’s coming right at you! Who wants to realize they’ve missed God because their past was at the forefront of their heart and mind instead of the present? There is a reason why our eyes are in the front of our heads and not the back!