“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”— Soren Kierkegaard – Danish Philosopher
It’s amazing how preoccupied we can be with the past—whether historical or recent. As a pastor, I’ve invested innumerable hours in counseling sessions, intercessions, and teachings that attempt to help folks unravel, understand, and heal from what has happened in the past. Complicated and entangled situations plague them: painful circumstances from home, work, school, and church—between friends, family, co-workers, and parishioners. People are still mentally, emotionally, and spiritually dealing with their own regrettable decisions or the behavior or words of others that has brought injury. Many are stuck between “If only…and what if,“ or so focused on “The good old days,” that they are stalled at a standstill. When our life’s-blood is only made up of memories—it is hard if not impossible to move FORWARD—onward so as to make progress; toward a successful conclusion; toward the future. The military’s definition of forward is positioned near enemy lines. Maybe we don’t move forward because we’re afraid of what lies there— but destiny is found in forward.
Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian Nobel Peace Laureate, and Explorer said,“I demolish my bridges behind me…then there is no choice but to move forward.” Nansen led the team that made the first crossing of Greenland in 1888, traversing the island on cross-country skis. It takes courage to move forward—to stop thinking about, to ignore, disregard, and leave the past behind, while choosing to forge ahead. The Apostle Paul, who held many regrets from his former life persecuting Christians, made “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” his focal point—‘the one thing “ he would do. (Phil 3:13)
If we are to make forward progress…the past can no longer rule us. We are called to forgive ourselves as we have been forgiven…even for the time we believe we have “lost.” We can choose to release our cravings for revenge, and let go of our fights for vindication. We can surrender: our approval addictions and our internal wars for significance by means of achievements, relationships, notoriety, and possessions. Many of us have been struggling to ‘prove things’ to ourselves and others for quite a while. It’s time to be free. If we are to move forward, we must do so without fear…in particular, the fear of failure. C.S. Lewis said, “Failures, repeated failures, are fingerposts on the road to achievement. One fails forward to success.” Move forward.