For all the talk about mindfulness and living in the present going on these days, there are still far too many people who remain locked in the failures of the past.
Past failure reaches its guilty hands out from the grave and latches onto your heart, seeking to pull you so far down that you never rise again. You could be right in the midst of even the happiest celebration on the outside, but be drained of all your strength as the talons of shame claw at your insides.
Led by Nehemiah, the Israelites had finally finished rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. After 70 years in exile they had miraculously finally returned to their homeland and settled in their towns, just as God had promised would happen.
As they gathered together to listen to Ezra read out the book of the law, they began to mourn and were grieved by how severely they and their ancestors had failed and disobeyed God in the past.
But right as they were in the midst of their shame and despair, Nehemiah sought to inject them with new life and give them hope for the future:
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” – Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT)
Nehemiah realised that although their past failure was a reality, they were now living in the present – and that this moment was not a time of judgment and loss but one of forgiveness and restoration. God had fulfilled His promise so this wasn’t a time to dig up the past, but a time of great joy as they celebrated His faithfulness!
Strength can never be found by dissecting the failures of the past, but by choosing to live in the reality of the promise.
Paul also had a history of astronomical failure – yet he decided not to live in the past, but to live in the reality of the promise:
“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize” – Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
Like Nehemiah and Paul, as we choose to forget the past and reach out with the hands of faith to receive God’s promise, we will discover new life and supernatural strength rising up inside that will enable us to leap into the future!