Lately I have been pondering what my life might have been like if I had known what I know now, only back then, when I was a kid, or young adult. This is typical with folks who are less satisfied with their lives in the present, realizing that there are fewer days ahead than are behind. I think that, at age 58, I am in that place of pondering the past, my past, and some of the goals that I perhaps should have met, but because of decisions and choices that I made then, I did not meet. While regret may seem the emotion that I am portraying here, let me assure you, it is not. I am both grateful and thankful for my life and the many things that God has done in it and in me along life’s way. I am very appreciative of the greater sacrifice that our former service men made on foreign battlefields that afforded me my freedom in America, a great nation, during a time of growing prosperity in a post WW2 economic boom. According to many sociologists and certain authors, I am in the tail end of the group of people known as the baby boomers, born between 1946 to 1964.
This put me in grade school in the early 70’s and graduated me from high school in the early 80’s. It was during those years, growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles, where I experienced much of what the popular culture had to offer at that time. Since I was raised in a Christian home, I spent a lot of time in church, in my case, and for my sisters also, we were raised Pentecostal so it was an Assemblies of God church. I would later become a minister in that same fellowship where we are all striving to do our best to serve the Lord and His people as best we can; myself included.
All that being said, I sometimes look back inappropriately at my past and wish that I could have done things a bit differently, perhaps not said or done certain things, or stayed away from certain folks and gravitated toward others. I have come to realize that this is poison for my soul and that looking back is just as much a waste of time and emotion as it is a fruitless venture. I challenge you, as I have myself, if you also struggle with looking back, to make this change and refrain from such thoughts about what life would have been like for you if you would have said or done this or that or not said or done this or that; but instead, enjoy the wonderful life that God had blessed you with.
My brothers (and sisters) in the Lord, if I can challenge you to not ponder your past mistakes, but rather celebrate the victories and blessings that God has given to you and press on toward the goals that are still before you. You can’t set goals in your past no more than you can meet deadlines that are long gone. If ever there were a man who had a reason to regret is past it would be the Apostle Paul, who said it this way,
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (laid hold of); but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” – Philippians 3:13-15
I have deeply benefitted from the many past experiences that I have had, both good and bad. While I would, if I could, erase all of the bad that I did, (not that it was a lot, it was enough) however, I have come to realize that Jesus has already erased it, permanently. I am justified by faith in Jesus and the life I am living now is all part of God’s sanctification process of cleaning me up and maturing me in my faith and walk with the Lord. This is the way of things, the way of the believer in Jesus. No matter how much we have gained or lost in this life, if we are in Christ, it doesn’t compare to what the Lord has in store for us in heaven and throughout all of eternity.
Paul reminded the church in Philippi, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” – Philippians 3:7-9
For the little time that we have left on this planet, may I encourage you to keep your focus on what is ahead and forget everything from your past that will hinder you in your race toward heaven.
The Hebrew writer said it this way, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author (originator) and finisher (perfecter) of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
In this last hour, we must make every effort to be a good witness of the Christ to as many as the Master brings into our path. We must strive to be a good example of a devoted follower of Jesus, and do our best to be our best; then leave the rest to the Father. This isn’t about works’ righteousness, rather it’s just an outward expression of our inward love for the Father.
I speak a blessing of forward faithfulness over your life today; may you be empowered by God’s Spirit as you press on toward those things that are as relevant as they are purposeful for your life today. Love those closest to you and be a good steward of both things and people who God has blessed you with. The only thing that matters now is our salvation, our faithful witness of it, and our focus on winning as many to Christ as we can in these last moments; so that others, like us, may know and be glad.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Southern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 33-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.
One thought on “Past Goals”
This really ministered to me, pushing forward and not allowing my past to dictate my future.