Last week the family and I took a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. We had a blast fishing, swimming, and eating. In fact, for me the best memories of the trip was the meals we ate. We went to a seafood buffet, a big breakfast every morning, and I gained 3 pounds from the trip.
Two of the restaurants I was most excited about was Fuddruckers and Joe’s Crab Shack. These are two restraunts we used to have in Charlotte. We loved eating at these places. Fuddruckers always had the best burgers, and you could put as many of your favorite toppings as you wanted too. Joe’s Crab Shack always does the best pranks to people on their birthdays. While we were eating there, they told one lady if she found the cherry inside of bowl of whip cream; she would get her meal for free. She dug around while people sand happy birthday to her, and when everyone finished singing, then the cherry was placed inside the bowl.
These restraunts brought back great memories while we there. The past helped us make a great decision about where to eat. The past has two effects on our lives. It can move us forward, or it can hold us back.
The past can move us forward because it will help us make an informed discussion about what to do next. The past also reminds us that even when times are tough, God is there us. When it seems like all hope is lost, remember the times He was there for you. Also, look back at the times He was there for His people. Romans 15:4 says:
For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope.
A great place to look is Hebrews 12, where we see the results of God’s people being faithful. Think about Job, the man who lost everything, and in the end gained more because He stuck with God.
When things are tough for me as a teacher, I always think back to the night God called me to teaching. I remind myself of the other tough circumstances I have been through, even though it seemed hopeless, and God got me through it. The past is a great reminder of God’s faithfulness in our lives.
The past can also hold us back in life and ministry. In life, the past can remind us of past failures, and prevent us from taking a necessary risk. The risk can be starting a small group, and being part of a ministry at church. The past can remind of prior rejections. It might be time to change jobs or apply for a promotion. However, the fear of what happened in the past could prevent us from taking that risk. We allow what happened before to hold us back now.
I have seen the past hold the church back before. I am sure we have all heard the phrase, “That is the way we have always done it.” This statement holds churches and people back from moving forward in their faith with God. Often, there is something that needs to change in the area of teaching and reaching, but because of that phrase nothing changes.
I heard this statement in discussion about a teaching program a church was doing on Wednesday night once. Apparently, back in the 70’s, this church had the largest Wednesday night teaching ministry in the city. They easily averaged about 150-200 kids a night. Today, they have on average 5. Has anything changed in the last 40 years? The answer to that is no. The only difference is the people who teach it have. To me, this would justify a need to change, but since “that is the way we have always done it” applies, nothing happens.
Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, 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. (ESV)
The past can be a guide or a burden. We choose how to use it. In life the past has been both. At times where I see God wanting to move me, I get fearful because I remind myself of my past failures. Fear begins to take over, and you lose sight of the vision God has given you for your life.
“You either kick out fear of your heart or it will keep you out of the places God has prepared for you.” 1
The past is supposed to be a reminder of the things God has done. Always look back at the areas where God has walked with you, and helped you overcome. Often in the Old Testament, the authors would refer the people back to when they were slaves in Egypt. Then the writers and prophets would remind them of how God delivered them from the worst possible place in their lives as a people ever.
Deuteronomy 4:9 Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.
Look back at the past at those times where God has delivered you, and remember He will deliver you again.
1) Furtick, Steven. Crash the Chatterbox