Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Past, A Rudder or an Anchor

Some people are not able to enjoy the present or prepare for tomorrow because they are still living in the past. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe has put it like this: "Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?' You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you down. We must learn from the past but not live in the past." Or as Thomas Holdcroft once put it, "The past is a guide post, not a hitching post."

Why do we find it so easy to live in the past? The past is an easy place to live because there are no surprises there. It takes no faith to live in the past. The Hebrew writer reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

When does a moment, a space in time become “the past?” One second is present and in the same second one second has become a part of our past forever, set in stone never to be changed. It is what it is and will never be anything different. Some of those seconds represent successes and some represent failures. Whatever they were they will always be. We can do nothing to change them, but we do control what we do with them. They can be a dark room where we live in pain, wallow in pity, retreat to the room of regret, or they can be launching pads for the future. We choose whether our pain will paralyze us or propel us. We choose whether our successes will become secrets to future victories or the ropes that tie us to ground like a helium balloon straining against it ropes to soar to places unknown.

One of the most often quoted passages of Scripture in these daily devotional thoughts is Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV). “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is simply saying, “Yesterday I did not reach all my goals, perfect my life, or obtain everything I hoped for, but I won’t let that hold me back. I have to shake all that off and move ahead.” (Lewis paraphrase) I enjoy the game of golf. I think I like it because it is so much like life. It is 90% mental and 10% physical. The percentages are just random numbers I chose. There is nothing scientific about their selection, but what I do know is that a major factor in the success of any golfer is their mental state, their mindset. Physical conditioning can help and improve your game, but you can be in the best shape physically and in a bad mental state. The physical cannot overcome the power of the mental attitude. But the mental attitude can overcome physical limitations or lack of conditioning. When you make a bad shot, miss the fairway, miss the green, miss an easy putt you have to shake it off and move on to the next hole. If you let the mistake, the wrong choice of club, the wrong read of the putt get into your head you are defeated. You often see a professional golfer after hitting a bad shot stop immediately and swing at the air. He is at that moment putting the bad swing behind him and swinging the club in the way he should have fixing that image in his mind instead of the bad swing that resulted in a wayward shot missing the target.

There are many wonderful things in our pasts as well. It is okay, even advisable to go there and experience the gratitude the memories bring to our hearts. or to fix the image of “that swing” in our minds to use it on the next shot. Just remember that the past is a rudder to guide us not an anchor to hold us back.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for memory. If You wanted me to ignore my past completely You would not have given me the gift of memory. Help me to use the gift of memory to guide me to accomplish great things for You today not to stop me from taking the steps of faith I need to take. Help me to bless someone else today. In the name of Jesus. AMEN.

Pastor Roger

1 comment:

Clint said...

great thoughts!