“…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” (Philippians 3:13)
Most of us, if we have walked with the Lord for any length of time have had our share of battles, and some of them might not seem to have turned out so well in our favor. The wounds and feelings of perplexity can at times run deep, leaving us feeling defeated, confused and without much hope for the future.
This is the very thing that the Apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, was referring to when he declared “…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…” (Philippians 3:13) Why would he do this? Because he understood what it was like to be battle-weary; he also knew that it would be impossible to move forward while holding onto the baggage of yesterday. The failures and even the successes of yesterday can be like anchors around our ankles that must be removed in order to run the race that God has set before us.
As a young man, Moses had destiny burning in His heart (Acts 7:25). He had seen by the Spirit, through the eyes of faith, the children of Israel departing out of Egypt; he saw the same thing that Joseph had seen four hundred years before (Hebrews 11:22). Moses believed in the calling upon his life; he was young and determined, and full of zeal, and he understood that God had a plan to deliver His people (Acts 7:25). He hid these things in his heart until he felt the time was right, and then went into action. But he failed miserably (Acts 7:23-29), and then fled into the wilderness, no doubt defeated in his heart.
For forty years Moses kept sheep in the land of Midian (Exodus 3:1), and every day, had the opportunity to think; “Where did I go wrong? “Where did I miss it?” “What happened to the great calling upon my life?” “I know that God put something in my heart, but my people are still in bondage, and now I’m an old man!” In perplexity, Moses resigned himself to retire in the land of Midian, and to probably die there with his family and with his sheep.
But God had a plan all along, and in the proper season, He came to Moses; “I know that you are broken, Moses, but what do you have left?” (Exodus 4:2) That’s what God is asking; what do you have left? “Things may have not have turned out the way that you had planned, but what do you have left in your hand?” What Moses had left was sufficient for God to part the sea and free His people; what Moses had left was sufficient to destroy a nation and to fulfill God’s eternal plan. God never forgot, but Moses had to forget something; he had to forget the ways of Egypt, he had to forget his own abilities, and now God was demanding that he forget his past failures and go back to Egypt.
My friend, do not ask yourself what you have lost, but rather what remains, for it is what remains that God can use to change a situation, to change a nation.
In the beginning of the New Testament (Luke 1:5-20), before the birth of John the Baptist, Zacharias was high priest; he and his wife Elizabeth had prayed for a son in their younger years, as she was barren. But year after year went by and still no son was born to them; Elizabeth was now passed the age of Childbearing and Zacharias was an old man.
In their younger years, they were excited about the things of God; they knew how God had visited Sarah; they knew how He visited Hannah (Genesis 21:1-2, I Samuel 1:19). So they got into agreement and prayed. But over the years things changed; they had forgotten about the prayer of their youth, and when an angel of God appeared to Zacharias at the appointed time, Zacharias was cynical, his heart hardened in unbelief. It didn’t matter to him that his prayers were in the process of being answered, for during the years of waiting, when his faith should have been growing stronger, he had hardened his heart. He argued with God; “No, you don’t understand, I am an old man!” “It’s over for me!” Can you imagine? Explaining to God that He doesn’t understand! “Whereby shall I know this?” (Luke 1:18) God had to close his mouth in order to keep him from hindering His plan with words of unbelief (Luke 1:20, James 3:6).
All of us have had failures, and these things can get down on the inside of us, and if we’re not careful, they can sabotage our faith. Hebrews says not to harden our hearts as in the “day of provocation” in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:7-8). The things of God, most of the time, do not come out of heaven without a fight, and sometimes these battles can be brutal (Isaiah 9:5). Satan will fight vigorously for every inch of territory that we purpose to take; we can be assured of that, but we will win if we will not quit! Isaiah declared that he would “set his face as flint,” and would never be ashamed (Isaiah 50:7).
If God has spoken something, it is as good as done, regardless of what circumstances look like, and He will visit you in the proper season. He will perform the thing which He has promised, if we keep our hearts tender and receptive to the Holy Spirit, and continue in faith, love and obedience.