Do you realize that you have “time zones” in your mind? Although you live only in the present, your mind can drift to another time zone—either to the past or to the future. Paul said, "One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
THE “PAST TIME ZONE”
The past does not exist anymore, except in your memory. I grew up in New Orleans and in my mind I can see myself walking through all the rooms in that house. In 2005 that house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The house doesn't exist anymore—but it’s still there in my memory. In reality that house is gone but in my imaginations, I can still go there—if I choose to think about it.
In the same way, your past doesn't exist anymore, but in your imaginations you can still go there. It’s not wrong to briefly visit the past to reminisce about good memories, which can make you thankful. But far more people climb into their mental time machine and travel to the past time zone to think about the horrible memories in the past. If you dwell on your hurtful past, you will become bitter, or will feel guilty, or will sink into depression, or will fume in anger. Calling up bad memories will affect your mental and spiritual health in the present.
LETTING GO OF YOUR PAST
Just like you can hold on to things with your hands, you can also hold on to things with your spirit. To let go of the past, you must let go of what your heart is holding on to.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life and still feel guilty about past sins, trust this verse: “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:13).
If you were hurt by someone in your past, you must forgive and let go. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just at God also forgave you in Christ” (Eph. 4:32).
If you regret something you did or didn’t do in your past, remember that God will accept you in your present situation and lead you from where you are right now if you will surrender to Him. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Next time I’ll talk about the “Future Time Zone.”
Coming in April 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers)