No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
--Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
My wife and I went over to see some friends last night. During the course of the visit, the father got into a light-hearted wrestling match with his son. I got to thinking about that today. I never had that when I was a kid. Dad was always working out of town, and all my parents' friends and family were much older. So there was never a lot of roughhousing with my dad when I was growing up. But don't think I'm whining or complaining. That's the very point I'm about to make.
There are some people who would say, "Oh, I'm sorry! You missed out on so much!" Did I? My mom and dad raised us three kids to be good people. Dad worked hard to provide. He made enough to where we could take a vacation once a year. Mom took us kids to Sunday School. They taught us right from wrong, and about consequences. When I was 5, I called one of my sisters "The 'B' Word." And for that, dad took that rough, calloused right hand of his and laid it across my backside. It was the only time he ever had to do it.
God knows what is best for us. So many people today think that the best thing they can do for their kids is to give them every thing they ever ask for, never telling them "No," never making them go without, never making them tough it out, never letting them face troubles and obstacles. Because they don't want their kids to look back on their childhood and say, "I missed out on that!"
That's what the title of this post is all about. God is God--of everything, including time. Now, don't misunderstand what I'm about to say; I will explain myself in a moment. Here goes: God is God of the present and the future. If we are willing, God will lay out the path He would have us walk. And He can do that because He knows what will happen if we turn to the right or the left. He knows where every path leads. He can guide us through the present, and He can make for us a wonderful future.
We, however, are gods of the past. (Notice the little 'g'.) We have the ability--and we almost seem to have a desire--to change our past. We can make for ourselves a past of our own liking. We can take a childhood filled with all kinds of good things--love, learning, and maybe a few bumps and bruises--and make it the most miserable existence on earth. Just because we never went to Disneyland. Just because we never got that special Christmas present. Just because mommy and daddy didn't give us a brand new Mustang when we turned 16.
By the same token, as adults we may chase things we shouldn't be chasing. Then, when things start spiraling out of control, someone tells us about Christ. We repent, we quit doing those things, we start following paths of righteousness. But sometimes, it's easy for us to look back. We may pass by our old stomping grounds--a favorite bar, or adult bookstore--and we think, "Boy, I remember when..." And we reflect with a gleaming eye and a fond rememberance (2nd Corinthians 7:9-10).
Do not darken the memory of good things. Do not polish the memory of evil things (1st Peter 1:14). Remember that God has used all of these things to bring you to the person you are today (Romans 8:28). And He is using the present things to conform you to the image of His precious Son (Philippians 3:10). Do not be the god of your past. Whatever your past, let it be your past. Leave the former things. Press on toward the mark.