All of us might have things in our past that we have trouble leaving behind. They are things that haunt us, maybe not consciously but they are there all the same. We are called by God to move forward, sometimes into territory we know nothing about or brings us a feeling of trepidation. Can you imagine how the Patriarch, Abraham, felt when God told him to go to a country he never had been to? In the book of Acts, Stephen is standing before the Sanhedrin and he is recounting how God told Abraham to pack up and leave. Acts 7:3 says, “and he said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and go into the land that I will show you.’” (NASB) God had something better for Abraham, but Abraham had to leave all that he knew behind and start a new beginning. He couldn’t carry with him things from the past. He needed to leave it all behind and follow God’s leading.
A new beginning for us means leaving behind all the things that have drug us down, hindered us, or caused us great pain, and stepping out in faith toward what God has planned for us. Sometimes that means forgiving someone who has hurt us deeply, making restitution, sometimes we need to forget, and maybe even forgive ourselves for things we have done to others or to ourselves, that caused us to fall. We need to drop them right where they are, leave them behind, and move toward a better future.
Forgiveness is a good step to heal hurts and failures. Then once we have given forgiveness, we must forget the hurt and leave it behind. We must remember that our lives are planned out by God Himself and that His plans for us are for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11) We are to take the road He has made for us to travel.
Taking that first step into the new future can be very scary. Abraham must have felt a little afraid as he headed out for the Promised Land. He was leaving his family, friends, and all he knew to go to a new land where he didn’t know anyone, didn’t know the culture or customs, and yet He had faith enough to take that first step and be obedient to what God told him to do.
Stepping out and leaving past hurts behind can leave us feeling much like Abraham must have felt, a little scared, a little unsure, even a little lost. But, once we have left those things behind, life seems to be easier. The burdens are not there. We don’t have to lug around all those issues, we can breathe easier because our load is lighter.
New beginnings can be as simple as starting a new life as a Christian. Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior means leaving your old life behind and beginning a new one with Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) We begin with a clean slate…God forgives all our sins, and we are made righteous through the blood of Jesus. God takes our past and throws it into the sea of His forgetfulness. (Micah 7:19) When we bring up past sin, He says, “What sin?” He casts it away, never to be remembered again.
While we cannot always forget the past, we can learn from it and move forward and not let it affect us in the here and now. Some have stated that one step in leaving the past behind is to write down on a piece of paper, that thing that is hindering us, then pray and forgive, and burn the piece of paper. Today is a good day to start toward our new beginning by leaving the past in the past.