– Phillips Brooks
Lost verses Found
Some describe their life as AC and BC or After Christ and Before Christ and use their salvation as a reference point or border marking the “I was once lost” from the “but now am found.” We can look at our past and see just how much God has done. For one thing, we’ve had the condemnation lifted and now have peace with God (Rom 5:8, 10) and have repented of our past and turned to the future and placed it in the hands of Christ so God has wasted none of our past even though we feel we might have.
Learning from Mistakes
I think experience is the best teacher of all because we learn more from our mistakes than any other way. Experience is a good teacher but she’s a hard teacher too, allowing us to learn the hard way in order to seek the only way and that is the way, the truth, and the life found in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). In time, we learn that going “that way” is a bad way but going His way is the only way.
Not Repeating Mistakes
The Apostle Paul wrote “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” (Phil 3:13) and because of this choice to look forward, he writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). Paul was so busy looking forward to the next missionary journey or church planting that he had no time to look back. It would have been a waste of time for him to dwell on it, knowing that the work God has called him for was yet ahead of him.
We have a saying in our church about those who want to join our church or when they come to saving faith in Christ; we don’t trip over what’s behind us. We can’t be looking back all the time because we’ll trip over what’s in front of us. The equivalent would be like trying to drive a car by constantly looking in the rearview mirror. Jesus once said that “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) because they’ll miss the planting that’s yet ahead. We can’t commit to God and then say, “Well, I’ll get back to it.”
God can use your past for His glory if we don’t try to glorify our own past but if we are honest with people about our past sins and failures. This should give others hope who are struggling with sin right now. Phillips Brooks was so right when he said that “The only way to get rid of your past is to make a future out of it. God will waste nothing” but rather God uses our reflection of our past, lost life; our learning from past mistakes so that we won’t repeat them again; and to have us look forward and fix our eyes on seeking the kingdom first and foremost (Matt 6:33) and that means seeking the King of that kingdom above all things.