In Philippians chapter 3 of God's Word, Paul wrote,
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
With his past in mind (his good roots, his zeal of keeping the law, his persecution of the church, his Phariseaical attitude of keeping the law, etc...), He shares snapshots of the good, bad, and ugly of his past.
He assures us that he has not "arrived" at the ideal spiritual plateau, but he has matured enough in his faith to apply the Truths God has revealed to him.
He encourages us to forget the past and to press forward - reaching forth to what is ahead of us. Obviously, Paul did not forget where he came from. Paul did not forget his life lived for keeping the law. Paul did not forget he tortured Christians before he became one. Paul did not forget his arrogance as a Pharisee.
I don't think he is telling us to forget our past degradation or the harm done to us by such people. Otherwise, he would not have recalled to us his past.
Above our past, I believe Paul is encouraging us to press forward and be focused on our highest goal and reward - Jesus Christ - MORE than memories of the past.
Surely, Paul went through grueling inner processes to understand and accept God's grace over his past and to let God heal his heart for wrongs done to him or for the false teachings he was deceived into believing and then, in turn, propagated himself.
Should we ignore past hurts and pretend they never happened? Paul didn't pretend. Paul was honest with God, himself, and those he ministered to. His honesty regarding his past and his humility regarding his present is still helping us today, all these years later.
So in order to "press on," to "reach forward," to "move forward" as is commonly spoken... there are requirements to do so. Paul shows us by example.
• Hearing Truth from God
• Honesty with God and self
• Humility with God and others
• Highest goal: Jesus Christ!
Very often I loudly hear, "We must move forward." I get the knotted feeling in my stomach that I must force myself into some good works so I can move the nation, the church, my family or myself forward.
Contrary to the feeling I get every single time - that it all depends on me for God to accomplish His work - my gracious God has taught me that truly "moving forward" is simply quieting my heart before the Lord and sincerely asking Him to show me His next step for me. He may ask me to step out of my comfort zone for a time to do something for Him to get the glory in His determined way. He may ask me to step away from comfortable, rhythmic motions of life in order to find healing and comfort only He can give.
I'm not sure where I got the idea that since I wanted to serve God with my life, that my heart would never need care. Just as God cares about all the people we want to help, He cares that much about my heart needs, and yours as well. He is gentle and attentive, and leads in quiet, peaceful ways.
Press forward though the past always tries to pull you back;
Look ahead to the Finish Line when you've gotten off track.
Reach forth to God's Word: be still and seek God's face.
Continue on with God - in hope, in love, in joy, and in grace.
~ jlw 9.8.22