By Charles Gerber
Everything changes. If you put macaroni and cheese in a refrigerator for a month, it becomes green and fuzzy. It changes into something unhealthy and nonnutritious. But, while most food items will spoil over time, our past has no expiration date!
Everyone wrestles with his past. Oscar Wilde said, “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” But regret is sometimes the reason we try. Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer whose quest was to find the fountain of youth. Was he looking to undo his past mistakes by regaining his youth?
The past is a major reason for anxiety and addictions. There are two things people cannot do with their past: They can’t forget it (Psalm 51:3) and they can’t undo it. But they certainly can relive it! As the comedian said, “When I think about the past, it brings up a lot of memories.”
One positive way we can cope with the past is to let God deal with it his way. As Christians, we choose to face our past with God’s help. As Christians, our sins have been erased—forgiven and forgotten by God. Jesus declares our innocence from sin. God has a great big Magna Doodle and he has wiped our sins away! Isaiah 43:25 states, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
This transformation from guilt to forgiveness can be difficult to believe and accept. The past can haunt, hinder, harm, and hold us. Dwelling on our past sins can prevent us from seeing the new things God creates in us and for us (Isaiah 43:18, 19).
What should we do with our past? Learn from it, but then let it go (or leave it; see John 8:11).
Jesus does not want us to look back (see Luke 9:62). Paul writes about this in Philippians 3:12-14. There are two things we cannot change: God and the past. So we should let the unchangeable God deal with our unchangeable past.
Charles Gerber is founder of Christian Counseling Services in Muncie, Indiana, and has served in this ministry more than 30 years.