Forgetting the Past and Moving Forward
We can’t change what has happened, but we can resolve to be more Christlike.
by CAROLYN TOMLIN
HILE ON A WINTER road trip to visit their grandchildren in New England, a couple suddenly realized they had taken a wrong turn. Ending up on a secondary road covered in ice and snow, the wheels spun, and the car almost slipped into a ditch.
The wife asked, “Are we going to make it?”
The husband replied, “Well, the road is a sheet of ice, the windows are covered with sleet, and we’re almost out of gas. To be very honest with you, we may slide off the road, or we may get stranded for a little while, but at any rate, … we are still moving forward!”
As we approach the New Year, you may be asking if we’re going to make it after all of the hazards we’ve faced in 2020. The coronavirus has affected millions worldwide. Protests and marches have filled our streets. Businesses and many churches have closed their doors. People have lost jobs.
We would agree: It’s time to move forward. And though it may seem like a slippery slope, there are some sure steps we can take: We must forgive those who have hurt us. We should seek reconciliation with those we have hurt. We should let go of the anger and violence we hear in the news. And most importantly, we need to move beyond our own regrets and mistakes from the past by asking God to work new things in us to make us more Christlike.
Randall Kellough, pastor of Woodland Baptist Church, Brownsville, Tennessee, shares thoughts on why and how to move forward during the coming year.
“The year 2020 affected us emotionally and spiritually, causing fear and anger. The Bible encourages us to move on, pointing Christians to the Lord, the One who secures us — past, present, and future. We have to decide: Will Christ rule our response, or will the pain and hurt? The Christlikeness we should demonstrate in any painful chapter of life is to offer forgiveness as God has forgiven us and seek reconciliation akin to what Holy God did through His sinless Son. According to Romans 14:19, as God’s ambassadors, we should foster peace with our words and actions. The path forward goes through God’s love that covers sins and changes lives!”
Setting goals are important in making New Year resolutions to move forward. However, we need a plan to reach those goals. Consider these commitments to help you become more Christlike in 2021.
- Attend church when possible, or worship online if you’re unable to attend in person. God’s people make a difference in your life.
- Pray at least 15 minutes each day. Find quiet moments throughout the day to reflect on God’s blessings to you.
- Read your Bible daily. Regular Bible reading can change your attitude about life. See the Read-the-Bible-Through Plan on page 6.
- Join a Bible study or start one of your own. Find some great Bible studies at lifeway.com and consider the online options that may be available.
- Learn about fasting. A spiritual fast can be a powerful discipline. Read The Power of Prayer and Fasting by Ronnie Floyd.
- Reach out to a non-Christian friend or a new neighbor. Pray regularly for him or her, and look for ways you can share the gospel.
- Start volunteering. Find ways to serve God and others in your church and community, and look for mission opportunities.
- Tithe your income. We are commanded to give a tithe or a 10th of our earnings. Be generous in your giving, remembering how generous God has been toward you.
- Memorize Scripture. Collect verses you can readily recall. Each month, cut out the bookmark on page 41 and memorize the verse.
- 1Read Christian books. See page 27 for some recommended reading.
- Listen to Christian music. Sing songs of praise to God, hum a hymn, play a favorite Christian song on an instrument, or listen to worship music.
- Commit random acts of kindness. Look for ways to help others without the thought of being rewarded or paid back.
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul reminds us that we cannot move ahead if our thoughts and vision are focused on the past: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Let the year 2021 be a year of opportunities for growing as a Christian. Ask God for wisdom, faith, and courage as you face the coming months.
CAROLYN TOMLIN, Jackson, Tennessee, writes for the Christian market and teaches the Boot Camp for Christian writers.