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To Enjoy the Present, Put away the Past

It is hard to walk with a light step if you are carrying a heavy load.

Several types of beetle larvae carry what is called a fecal shield. They keep their own excrement and build a shield from it on their backs. That discourages predators, not just for the reasons we might think. It’s not that potential predators find the shield contents disgusting; they find them dangerous. The beetles feed on noxious plants so that their fecal material is poisonous. Nobody wants to bother them.

Some people are like that; they feed on toxic thoughts. They store them up and build an invisible shield that is highly effective at keeping others away. Being near them proves to be very unpleasant. Being them is even more of a drag.

If we store up and carry around noxious things from our past, the past poisons the present – it robs us of joy. If we hope to be happy, we must do some forgetting. And among the most important things to forget are our failures.

Notice what Paul said: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Forgetting what is behind. It’s a requirement for moving forward unburdened. But it’s not always easy.

For Paul, part of his past was “persecuting the church” (Philippians 3:6). When he lay down at night, Paul could hear the echoes in his mind of the sobs of wives as he dragged their husbands away to jail. When he closed his eyes, he could see the look of terror in the eyes of children whose mother he arrested (Acts 8:3). His memories were splattered with the blood of Stephen, stoned to death with Paul’s approval (Acts 22:20).

Paul’s past was dark. It could easily have darkened the rest of his days. But, by God’s grace, he could forget what was behind. You can, too.

You have a similar past. Oh, you probably haven’t persecuted Christians and you may not have assisted in anyone’s execution. But, you’ve got your share of shame. However, you don’t have to carry it around. God offers to free you from your fecal shield of shame to let you live with joy.


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