I cannot alter my past through memories I replay, and I confess the impossibility of controlling my future. God is sovereign, lifts the burden of anxiety from my shoulders, shelters from self-sabotage and draws me up into his mighty arms. I am not alone in my desire to harness memories; the Apostle Paul made a conscious effort to dwell not on the past.
"Brethren, 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. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 RSV)." He did not claim spiritual perfection; instead, he kept reaching toward the ultimate goal. Jesus had a firm hold on Paul.
What memories did the past hold? Like many, Paul had things he rejoiced in and things for which he held resentments or remorse. As a Jew, Paul had been the cream of the crop, raised in an orthodox family, taught by a leading Rabi and held the honor of being a Roman citizen. If only Paul in his religious zeal to uphold religious standards persecuted the church.
He pushed persecution to the limits, stood in agreement as an accomplice to Stephen's undeserved death by stoning. After the apostles' miraculous conversion on a Damascus road Paul experienced both blessings and great suffering. He could empathize with anyone who experienced hardship and endured in trials and afflictions.
"Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a madman-with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times, I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 RSV)." His faith sustained him.
I have a "past." God blessed me to see "today;" God holds the "future" in his hands
Freelance writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Devotionals are her first love in writing. Published articles in Mature Living Magazine, Devotions for the Deaf, The Secret Place, Light from the Word, Coosa Journal and more. Devotions included in Mary HollingsworthÃ¢s The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter by Tyndale Publishers.
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