Leaving It Behind

Here we are on the threshold of a brand new year.
With 2016 coming to a close and 2017 knocking on the door, many of us are reflecting on the highs and lows of this year and holding on to our hopes of a prosperous and better 2017.
With a new year approaching, I’m always reminded of the words penned by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3: 12-14 when he said “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In this particular passage, Paul is giving the believers his personal testimony. He also reminds the church that he has not arrived yet by reminding them that he still has some rough edges in his life.
Prior to this passage, Paul gives the believers his religious resume, by listing his accomplishments and his descendants. Paul later realized that none of his accomplishments mattered unless he had a relationship with the Lord.
Friends, our own personal relationship with the Lord is the only thing that matters. It is a personal relationship with the Lord that will sustain us when the people and things we cherish so dearly are here this minute and gone the next.
Paul realized that the key to pressing forward was letting go of the past.
The King James Version of this passage records Paul as saying that he is reaching forth unto those things which are before. The New International Version records Paul as saying he is straining toward what is ahead.
I like the language used in the NIV, because it gives the image of someone reaching out to try to take hold of something that is so close to them, yet they aren’t able to touch it.
Basically Paul is saying that the thing he is reaching for is close enough for him to see it and smell it, but he can't touch it yet. Because Paul was close to it, he had a made up mind to keep pressing, or straining, towards his goal because what was ahead of him was greater than what was behind him.
While 2016 may have been good, 2017 has the potential to be greater. As a result, our focus should be on what’s ahead and not on the past.
While there are some things we will never forget and while 2016 may be filled with pleasant memories, let us not get caught up in living in the past. There is absolutely nothing wrong with remembering the past, the problem becomes when we choose to continue to live in the past.
With a new year ahead, let’s leave our past behind us and let us focus on what lies ahead in the coming year.
Most of all, let us keep our focus on Jesus Christ in this coming year.

Jamal Brown is the managing editor of the Siftings Herald and Gurdon Times. He also serves as the pastor of the Mount Olive Baptist Church of Camden.