Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – Philippians 3:13 ESV
Forgetting what lies behind.
At first glance, one might wonder; is Paul suggesting that we stop revisiting our experiences, memories, or past pains? Or is he advocating us to ignore the parts of our stories that have distinctively shaped us in ways still evidenced today? If so, perhaps Paul would look at Biblical counseling today and say, “there’s too much remembering what lies behind!”. Yet, if there was someone with a profound awareness of their own story, especially looking back, it was Paul.
He was shown that God set him apart from birth, that his exemplary endeavoring in Judaism and subsequent violent persecuting of the church were means by which to magnify the patience of God in his own life and others. Paul was painfully aware that among sinners he was the chief. (Galatians 1:13-17; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; Acts 22; Acts 26:15-18). Paul was a man familiar with his own story and consequently a man familiar with grace.
Larry Crabb once said, “there is no greater tragedy in human existence than an unexplored life”. Perhaps more than anyone, Paul had an explored life and saw the hand of a gracious God from his first chapter to his last. Being able to see the blood-soaked fingerprints of Jesus on every page of his story is precisely what helped him live without the lingering sensation of condemnation. What lies behind was no longer a hinderance to him. Revisiting his grace-filled story filled his sails and moved him nearer to the shore of Jesus’s eternal embrace. His past didn’t derail his journey to the oasis of Christ, instead it filled his sails! In his own words, he pressed “toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). He knew the difference between incessantly reliving the past and viewing it through redemptive lenses as means to catapult him in the present towards Jesus his prize.
Does what “lies behind” feel like an anchor to your soul? If you’re a believer and you don’t see the fingerprints of Jesus in the hardest parts of your story, you’re not rightly seeing your story. If you yearn to see God with a fresh perspective and want to strain forward to what lies ahead with real hope, we at Burke Care would love to walk alongside you in that journey.
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