It is hard to believe another year is almost over. It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2015. The big question we must answer is how does one best prepare to say goodbye to one year and hello to another one? I believe that Paul addresses this the best in his letter to the Philippians. Paul understood how to prepare for moving forward in a way that would make the future productive and fruitful. In chapter 3, verses 13&14 he writes:
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
If we are going to be ready to make the leap from this year to next, we must forget the past. For many of us, this is hard to do. But we cannot relive 2015. We can only say goodbye to it and embrace the future.
However, there is something else that I find in Scripture that seems to contradict Paul’s admonition about the past. Throughout, the Bible, especially in the OT, God instructs His children to remember the past. As I read about Moses, Joshua and other spiritual leaders in the Bible I find them remembering the past and rehearsing history. So how do these two instructions go together? How can I say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016 by both forgetting and remembering the past?
The key is to realize that Paul made it a point to forget those things that were important to him as he walked in the flesh and move forward by walking in the Spirit. God’s Word doesn’t contradict this when God tells us that is important to remember certain things about the past. God wanted the Israelites to never forget everything He had done for them when He delivered them from bondage and brought them into the Promised Land. One piece of advice that I have heard over and over again but never really grasped its full meaning goes like this.
You need to forget those things that need to be forgotten but remember those things that need to be remembered!
Unfortunately, I, along with many others Christians, do just the opposite. I tend to remember those things that I need to forget and forget those things that I need to remember. When the Israelites were going through the wilderness, they did exactly this. They remembered the cucumbers, garlic and leaks that they had to eat in Egypt and longed for those foods again. At the same time, they forgot the bondage and beatings they experienced at the hands of the Egyptian taskmasters.
If we are going to be prepared to take the leap from 2015 to 2016, we must remember what God wants us to remember and forget those things He wants us to forget. While we prepare to do this, we must also remember that Satan wants us to do just the opposite. For example,
- Satan wants us to forget that God created us as image bearers of Himself while God wants us to remember that we are specially created.
- Satan wants us to forget what Christ did for us on the cross while God wants us to remember that we are not our own but have been bought with a price.
- Satan wants us to remember all of our shortcomings and times we yielded to temptation while God wants us to confess our sin and then He will cleanse us from it and remember it no more.
- Satan wants us to remember how we fail God and, therefore, are of no use to Him while God wants us to learn from our failures and then forget them and move on in the power of the Spirit and prove what is His perfect and good will for our lives.
- Satan wants us to forget the marvelous works of God that we, as His children, have experienced this past year while God wants us to remember how He has provided for us, protected us and guided us throughout 2015.
I could go on with many other examples of things God wants us to forget and remember contrasted with what Satan wants us to forget and
remember. If we go by Satan’s desire for our lives, 2016 will be a total failure and our lives will be unfruitful. However, if we remember those things God has done around, in and through us this past year and forget those things we think are important to us or limit what God wants to do in and through us in 2016, the new year will be fruitful and exciting.
As we say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016, let’s be willing to take the leap of faith that God wants us to take. We do that by forgetting those things we need to forget and remembering those things that He wants us to remember! I am excited to see what God wants to do in my life in 2016! How about you? See you next year!