Whatever your outlook, January brings with it an opportunity to take stock and lay before God our hopes, dreams and aspirations for the year ahead. But for many of us, the baggage of the past prevents us from seeing clearly ahead.
Of course what’s gone before matters – all our stumbles and wrong turns teach us valuable lessons for the future. We see the world through the veil of our own unique experiences – but sometimes the veil is so thick we can’t actually see the future at all.
Don’t Be Captive to the Past
As we take a tentative step forward, past mistakes can pull us back – holding us captive to the past. We replay scenes from years gone by over and over again – torturing ourselves with the possibility of what might have been.
Winston Churchill once said, “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” But we’re not so sure about that. We know the past is important, and he was probably talking about learning from history – but if we spend our time in only looking back – then we cannot see the wonderful future God has in store for us.
Be Inspired by The Bible
The Bible is full of characters who have rather dubious pasts, and who sever ties with their former selves in order to do great things for God. Saul is a great example. Saul didn’t just hate Christians – he actively set about destroying the church and is implicated in the death of many – that’s some weight to carry on your shoulders. And yet he successfully left behind his past life when he gave his life to Christ – symbolically changing his name to Paul.
The reality of God’s forgiveness enables us to break free from the past and step into the future that God has planned for us, but it’s not necessarily that easy. We’re complex creatures with learned patterns of behaviour, and Paul himself is very honest about the ongoing challenge of moving on.
In Philippians 3:13-14, he writes, “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.”
Step into God’s Future
A few New Year’s resolutions aren’t enough to step into God’s plans for our lives. It takes commitment, strength and incredible courage, which is why it helps to have a few people helping you along the way.
Cinnamon is committed to helping those who are burdened by past mistakes, addiction, guilt and pain to start afresh, and we do that by equipping local churches to start initiatives in their communities. We love the local church because they’re not looking for a quick fix – they’re committed for the long-term. None of us can walk alone, and in the local church, we find companions for whatever stage of the journey we find ourselves on.
So as we look to the year ahead – let’s commit to walking particularly closely with those for whom the future is a frightening place. Together, we can help them to step into God’s wonderful plans that we read about in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”