Turning the Page

Who’s ready to move forward? Without a doubt, the last 52+ weeks have been some of the most intense, challenging, burdensome, and treacherous many have faced in an entire generation. If the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 have not touched you personally, chances are they have touched someone close to you.

In addition, life has allowed many surprises, some welcomed with joy and expectation, but many others we would rather have not experienced. All too often, we allow ourselves to get stuck in the circumstances of life. All too often, we give circumstances more power than we should. 

Recently, in preparation for a sermon, I came across a quote from author/actor Michael McMillian: “You cannot start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” This came as quite a reminder of how we allow ourselves to fixate on the issues of the day and become stuck in a mire of isolation. Certainly, life experiences should shape us and influence us. But far too often some of us allow circumstances to mold us like concrete statues anchored deep as a stationary fixture in a constantly blooming garden. But as difficult as it may be, we must break the molds that we have allowed to set our lives. 

Spring is such a beautiful time of year. It speaks of change and of renewal, and this is only right. Life changes, life moves forward, new problems and new joys will come; of this we can be sure. I am reminded of a verse from the New Testament. In Philippians 3 (you should go read it), the Apostle Paul writes, “but 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 for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  

If you are familiar with Paul’s life before he became a Christian, you may know he had a vicious past, with which he had to come to terms. And after Paul’s conversion he experienced numerous delights and adversities because he chose to dedicate his life to following Jesus. 

Paul could have allowed his history of cruelty to entrap him in a way where he could not have emotionally escaped, molding him into an angry old man. Or he could have even become stuck in the delights of life, those mountaintop experiences where everything seems perfect and pristine. Either of these extremes could have caused him to maintain an existence disconnected with reality’s joys and hardships.  

Be encouraged. Receive the challenge from the Apostle Paul. Forget about the past and look forward to what lies ahead. It’s difficult to forget about those times of life that brought pain and hurt, but we can forget the power we allowed them to hold in our lives. Even 80’s rocker Pat Benatar speaks about how we react to the past: “You can’t change the past, so don’t let it haunt you. You can change the future, but first you’ve got to want to.”

Figuratively, embrace the beauty of spring and forget the cold dark days of winter. Sunsets will continue to captivate, storms to devastate, rain clouds to brood and cleanse, and the sunrise to remind us of a new day. The Old Testament writer of Lamentations wrote, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (3:22-23).

Calendar pages continue turning, and even now turn to a new season. Be encouraged: you can leave that old hurt in the past and look forward to what lies ahead.