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NOTE: This is a series of 4 articles dealing with a very important topic many face today. These articles are not presented from a professional, psychological or sociologist standpoint. NOR are they intended to encourage one to avoid professional help when it is really needed. They are simply articles based upon my observations and recommendations from GOD'S WORD. Give them careful consideration if you are struggling with issues concerning your past. TATJR
DEALING WITH OUR PAST - 1
Let’s face it: we all have a past! Some have pasts that are filled with success and good. However, others have pasts filled with ungodly and foolish decisions and consequences that will haunt them the rest of our lives. Still others simply reflect upon choices they have made and wish that they would have acted differently. And still others face hurts and situations that they did not deserve or have any control over whatsoever. For some, our past might be a combination of all of these. But, in every case, it is still the past and no matter what we do we cannot take it back, AND we still have to deal with it. The question is, HOW? Let us take a few moments to examine the Bible and notice how Christians are supposed to deal with the past.
In dealing with the past there are generally three options: We can dwell on it and let it consume our present and future, making us and all who are around us miserable, OR we can completely ignore it OR we can file it away somewhere in our minds for proper recall, learn from it and move on.
First, should we ignore the past? We need to remember enough about out past so that we learn from it. U.S. philosopher George Santayana wisely observed, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This proverb is true not only with nations, but with our personal pasts as well.
The history of Israel is a good example of the consequences of ignoring the past. While trying to get Israel and Judah to repent, prophets often reminded them of their past. At times they appealed to the goodness of God and at other times His punishments. Sadly, Israel usually ignored their appeals. The result was a downward spiral of both nations until they were eventually utterly rejected by Jehovah God. Even we are warned to remember what Israel did and learn from it. In 1 Corinthians 10:6 Paul said, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they lusted.” To learning not to lust he ads idolatry, fornication, tempting God and complaining.
It is the fool who never learns from his past. Solomon wrote, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) Proverbs 27:22 says, “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” While we all have done things that we later regret, the truth is that most of our greatest troubles are NOT the product of a single act, but a failure to learn from our mistakes. Consider this: Most brethren are willing to completely forgive someone the first time they transgress, but if one keeps returning to the same old sins without learning from it, their sincerity and honesty will begin to be called into question.
Instead of ignoring the past we need to manage it. It has its place reminding us that we are now different. It has a place ensuring that we move forward. It has its place in reaching forward to spiritual maturity.
Paul remembered his past in this sense. It was continually a reminder of what he used to be. Writing to Timothy he said, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:12-13). On at least 5 other occasions, Paul brought up his past – that is remembering what he used to be (Acts 22:4, 26:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, Philippians 3:6). BUT, he didn’t let his past ruin his present. It served as a reminder that he was lost and doing things that were very wrong, even against God Himself. It reminded him of the misery and consequences that accompanied that sinful condition. It reminded him that his past was a place he did NOT want to go back to. AND it reminded him of how truly blessed he was because of the grace of God.
As he wrote to the Corinthian brethren Paul mentioned their past. He said, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. In this he emphasized the place the past should have in our lives.
But the key to remembering the past is to keep it in the past. Problems with the past are not because we remember what happened. They arise because we dwell on them and let them consume the present. This is where Christians need to be careful. When one refuses to let go of his past he is setting himself up for misery AND failure. I am reminded of the misery of Jacob as he believed his son Joseph was dead. For several years, he never let it go. When he sends his sons to Egypt because of the famine, he keeps Benjamin back, “lest some calamity befall him.” (Gen. 42:4). On their second trip Jacob is hesitant to send Benjamin with his brothers noting, “…My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.” (Gen 42:38) After all these years, Jacob is still miserable – not letting go of the past. When tragedy befalls someone there is a time for grieving, but at some point we have get up and move on. We all know of those who refuse to let go of the past. And they are miserable souls that none want to be around. They complain about everything in life. They expect everyone else to be sympathetic to their plight and cater to their grief (though it might be years later). They blame others for their own problems. Often times they live mediocre lives filled with failure because they doubt their self-worth and refuse to forgive themselves. AND there is another trait found among them – THEY FEEL ALONE! But the reason for their loneliness is not because others do not want to be their friends, it is because they REFUSE to let go of the past. Friends, here is a fact! NO ONE WANTS to be around someone who chooses to be miserable and makes everyone around them miserable as well. Those living in the past often wallow in their own misery and ALIENATE anyone who cares enough about them to encourage them to let go and move ahead.
In studying God’s word and considering the upbeat attitude Christians are to have, I cannot see how one with such a miserable attitude is pleasing to God. If you want to live a productive and whole life, you HAVE TO live for today rather than dwelling in the past (or in the future for that fact). Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.” (Matthew 6:34).
But what can we do to deal with the past? In our next article, we want to discuss how to let go of the past and move ahead.
DEALING WITH OUR PAST 2
The past is something we all have to deal with. While some can look at their past with relative success and pleasant memories, others have to contend with haunting or regrettable actions that might affect the rest of their lives. Whatever the case, we have to have a proper perspective in dealing with it.
In our last article we noted why we should not totally ignore the past nor dwell on it. We also noted the need to keep it in the past. Depending on how bad we have been hurt by someone else (right or wrong motives are irrelevant here) or what we have done to mess up our lives it might be very hard to forget about it, especially if there are lingering consequences that you must stare at every day. Sometimes these consequences are permanent (e.g. a physical injury, a criminal record, an unscriptural divorce, etc.) and at other times they may be long lasting (e.g. huge debt, addictions, ruined reputations, etc.). Whatever the case, you stare at your life and it seems hopeless or the mountain ahead of you is just too high to climb over. In such cases, many simply give up. They sink to mediocrity and everything revolves around what used to be. Friend, that is NO way to live life, and as a Christian it is ungodly.
But that leads us to ask HOW do we deal with the past? Let us notice a few things we can do to help our past go where it needs to go.
First, we need to accept forgiveness from God. There are many who believe they don’t deserve forgiveness and in the strictest sense they are right (Romans 3:23). But regardless of that God is still willing to forgive us. In fact He wants to forgive us (2 Peter 3:9). And His forgiveness goes well beyond the comprehension of men. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” Consider the example of Paul. He said, “although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). In Acts 22:4 he said, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,…” Yet in spite of this, he was forgiven by God. The point is that no matter what we have done, if we submit to God we can and will be forgiven. How many of us can say our past is worse than Paul’s was?
But to be forgiven, we must ACCEPT it. To receive forgiveness we need to obey His will. If one has never become a Christian needs to be baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38). Paul was told that in baptism he called on the name of the Lord AND he washed his sins away (Acts 22:16). Of course this baptism is based upon our belief in Him as well as our willingness to repent and confess Him as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37-39). But even as Christians, God provides a way to be forgiven again and again. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This depends upon our willingness to walk in the light (vs. 7) and repent of our sins (Acts 8:22). In other words, we must determine to QUIT sinning again and ask Him to forgive us.
But understand, if we do this GOD HAS FORGIVEN US! The question is, do we have the faith to accept it?
Next, we need to accept the consequences of our past. When we speak of not forgetting our past this is what I mean. If you have committed terrible sins you can’t take them back. If you spent your life pursuing debased behaviors, they are a part of your history. Don’t try to make excuses for what you did – but simply admit it. Even if there are other factors involved, you STILL need to take responsibility. In 1 Samuel 15 we read of Saul being instructed to completely destroy the Amalekites. King Saul partially obeyed God, but in God’s eyes, that was REBELLION and disobedience (15:22-23). When confronted for sparing King Agag and some of the livestock, rather than accepting his sins and their consequences he tried to blame the people and even appealed to his “good intentions” (15:15,21). After Samuel condemned him he did say, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words” but even in that he made excuses saying, “because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” (15:24) We know from his conduct after this that he did not truly repent, nor did he accept the results of what he had done.
You can again look at the example of Paul as he admitted all that he did (see 1 Tim. 1:13 above). I am sure that Paul was greatly influenced by Jewish enemies of Christ as he persecuted Christians. But he didn’t blame them for his past sinful behaviors. When we start blaming others we are NOT accepting total responsibility for our own behavior. And one who does that usually is not TRULY interested in changing their ways.
Another good example of this is David. Remember when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). It led to a number of sins. One author noted that in sinning David violated all 6 of the 10 commandments that deal with how we are to treat one another (Exodus 20:1-17), including adultery and murder. While he thought he could hide his sins, God exposed them through the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12). Nathan told him his concerns about a wealthy man with many sheep and a poor man who only had a single ewe lamb. When a traveler visited the rich man, instead of taking from his own flock, he killed the ewe lamb. David was angry and said, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die” (12:5). Nathan then exposes David’s as the man. Now note what David did NOT say. He did not say, “That Bathsheba should have never been bathing like that on her rooftop.” Or “I am under so much stress as king; you don’t know what it is like.” Instead he made a simple statement, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (12:13) Note that there are NO excuses, but simply ACCEPTING his past AND the consequences they brought about. Among the penalties the Lord pronounced was that the child would die. And he did. We are told that the Lord stuck the Child and it became ill. While the child was ill, David fasted, prayed to God and even pleaded with Him. But in time the child died (12:15-18). The servants were fearful to tell David that the child was dead because of the way he had been acting. But notice the response of David. After he is told, he gets up and cleans himself up and eats to receive strength. Later when asked why he acted as he did, his response was this, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead; Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” The point is, he moves on with his life. He accepts the consequences and lives with them.
The point to understand in this is that when you think of the past, there are many things you simply cannot change. If that be the case – accept it and move on from where you are right here, right now! I realize that saying this is much easier than actually doing it, especially when your past involves things you had no control over and you were wronged. But it can be done. Don’t forget in this to turn to God for help. He is there. We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. “
In our next article we will notice some more things to do to help us deal with our past in a way God is pleased.
DEALING WITH OUR PAST 3
Yes, we all have a past. For some, it is more traumatic or vivid than others but all of us, from time to time, recall what used to be whether good or bad. In previous articles we have noted that while remembering the past can have benefits, the challenge is in managing it so that it does not consume us. To do that requires that we have a proper perspective of our past. In this study we have been focusing on how to deal with a past that contains serious defects that we just can’t seem to move beyond. In our last article we noted that the first step is to accept forgiveness from God. Following that, we noted that we need to accept the consequences of the past. In this article we note some more things that will help up put our past in its proper place.
Change what you can. It is important that Christians understand true repentance. The word actually means, “to change one’s mind” (Thayer). The Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament notes, “Theologically it involves regret or sorrow, accompanied by a true change of heart toward God.” Here, we see that repentance is more that just changing one’s mind but it is a deep seated change. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” Note what their godly sorrow which produced repentance caused them to do. While they could not change the past, they did EVERYTHING they could to lessen the results of what they had done wrong. What they had been guilty of was tolerating adultery in their midst (1 Corinthians 5:1-8). But when their sins were identified they took immediate action (see 2 Corinthians 2:1-11). In fact Paul has to tell them they have done enough. That is what true repentance involves. It is more than just saying I am sorry. It involves ACTION!
Why should you change what you can? For at least 2 reasons: 1) Because it shows that you truly intend to live differently. 2) For your own sake. When you make restitution it helps you clear you mind. But understand that this only works when you truly do EVERYTHING you can possibly do. Otherwise, deep down you will continue to be haunted with whatever that might be.
When Jesus appeared to a man named Zacchaeus He went into his house and taught him. Zacchaeus responds by saying, “Look, Lord, I give half my goods to the poor. And if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8). This shows a true desire to make things right.
After committing another grievous sin against God and Israel, David was being punished (see 2 Samuel 24:1-17). When the Lord relented, David proceeded to offer a sacrifice to God. He came to the threshing floor of Araunah where the plague had stopped. Araunah offered to give David everything he needed to offer the necessary sacrifice. David responded, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:24) Notice how David wanted to do everything he could to make things right with God and others. He could not take back his sin, nor change the consequences – but he did everything he could do to put it behind him.
One might ask how much he needs to do.
Every circumstance is different. But deep down, if you are honest you KNOW what
you can still do. Sometimes the only thing you can do is get on your knees and
say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” But usually, there is more to be done.
Maybe you need to face those you hurt (or those who hurt you). Maybe you need
to give back what you have taken. Perhaps you need to confess your sins so that
all will know that you have truly repented. Just like David it may cost you
something. It may be a painful process. But it is necessary if you are to
overcome that which haunts you.
And, beyond that, of course you need to take action to keep from doing that which you were doing. IF you keep committing the same sins over and over you have NOT truly repented. And you probably have not taken care of the cause of your problems. The alcoholic needs to avoid bars, nightclubs and cocktail parties (as all of us do). The gambler needs to quit going to casinos and those places where the lottery is heavily promoted. Those addicted to sexual sins need to avoid those places where their lustful desires will be inflamed. The liar and gossip needs to find new friends who will hold them accountable for their behavior. Jesus said in Mark 9:43-44 says, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter life maimed, rather than having two hands to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – where, ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” He then repeated this admonition concerning the foot and plucking out the eye. Now His point was not self-mutilation, but rather the willingness to take extreme measures to keep sin out of your life if that will keep you out of hell. And that is what we are dealing with in many cases.
What steps are we really willing to take to cleanse our lives of sin? Remember what Jesus told the rich, young ruler? He said, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Luke 18:22) The text shows that he was a righteous man in many ways. He kept the law from his youth. But he was not willing to give up that which kept him from completing the transformation. Sadly we are told that he went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. Like so many, things ruled his life. What are we really willing to give up? If needed would we give up our television, cable channels, computers, credit cards, social activities, ungodly friends, immoral and unscriptural relationships, old habits, extra work hours, etc.? All of these things if mismanaged can rule and ruin our lives. Ask someone who works with recovering addicts or rehabilitating prisoners the challenge of the past. They will readily tell you that many return to their old ways shortly after completing their programs. And the reason is because they have not truly or completely walked away from their old ways. They want to change, but they are not willing to do the necessary work. They want to hold on to their new lives and their old ways at the same time. Friends, you CANNOT do that! Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the others. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24). Our willingness to walk away from sinful behaviors will have a great impact on our letting go of our past.
But what if the consequences of the past are not your fault? Maybe you were mistreated as a child or by a spouse. Maybe some traumatic things have happened to you that were NOT your fault. The truth is you still HAVE to accept where you are at now – or else you will continue to dwell on it and be affected by it. Since you cannot change what happened, change how you look at it. Resolve that you are not going to let it rule your life anymore. If you need to, seek GODLY professional help. If you can (and get professional advice on this) confront the one who hurt you. Seek to forgive him or her. Note that I did not say seek to be forgiven here since you did nothing wrong. The reason you do this is for YOUR own mental strength! Finally, and most importantly: Turn to God and ask His help (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6, Matthew 11:28-30).
In our next article we will conclude this study noting a few more things we can do to help us properly manage our past.
DEALING WITH OUR PAST (4)
We are continuing to address the subject of dealing with our past. It is important that we learn to manage it instead of letting it consume us. Rather than spend time reviewing what has already been said, please consult previous articles to learn WHY the past is something you need to deal with and steps we have discussed to help us put the past in its proper place. We have noted the need to 1) accept forgiveness from God, 2) accept the consequences of the past and 3) change whatever you can change. In this article we conclude our study noting some more things we need to do to put the past where it belongs.
NOW we come to what is possibly the most difficult thing one has to do. You need to forgive yourself! There are many who know that God has forgiven them and they are trying to move on with their lives. They are no longer doing those bad things that once consumed their lives. But deep down they don’t think they deserve God’s forgiveness and they have difficulty forgiving themselves because of what they have (or have not) done and the consequences they are facing. Sometimes one feels like they deserve to be miserable and this self-flagellation is their way of punishing themselves. Sometimes it is done IN PLACE of making things right.
When I think of this attitude, I think of Judas Iscariot. After he betrayed Jesus he realized what he had done was wrong. Matthew 27:3-4 says that he was remorseful, returned the 30 pieces of silver and said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But when that didn’t remedy the situation, he went out and hanged himself (5). There is no doubt that what Judas did was very wrong. But he didn’t have to kill himself. Like Peter, if he would have turned to the Lord, I am convinced he would have been forgiven. But instead of facing his past and dealing with it, he went out and hanged himself. That only made matters worse for his eternal soul. In dealing with your past, DON’T be like Judas and destroy yourself. Forgive yourself and move on.
There is only one way to forgive yourself – make up your mind to do so. Repent! Truly repent of the way you have treated yourself and beaten yourself up. In this I am not necessarily saying you are guilty of sin, but simply that you need to change your mind deep down, which is what true repentance is (see part 3 of this study).
It is easy to say this, but I realize it is hard to do. However, there are some things we can do that might help us to forgive ourselves. (Some of these suggestions found at www.prevention.com in an article entitled, Can You Ever Forgive Youself, http://www.prevention.com/article/0,5778,s1-1-65-73-2465-1,00.html).
First, while there is a time to feel guilty about wrongs you have done, if you have done all that you can to right the wrongs then realize you need to move on. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:…A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to break down and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; … A time to gain and a time to lose; A time to keep and a time to throw away; A time to tear and a time to sew…” (3:1-8) If you have done wrong, there is a prescribed time to feel guilty and “beat yourself up” if you will, BUT implied in this is idea of seasons for everything is that the season must come to an end. There is a time to move on and let go of your past.
Understand that when we fail to let go of our past we are setting ourselves up for failure. As long as you dwell in the past, you will not have enough room to adequately address the present. (Note: This is true even if our past is filled with successes – because then we are in danger of becoming complacent, arrogant or indifferent). When we are told in Ephesians 4:22 to put off the old man that includes the old man’s mind as well! Israel in the wilderness serves as a good example of how NOT to act. Continually they remembered “the good old day in Egypt”, you know those days when they were slaves and used at the whim of Pharaoh and his minions. But still Acts 7:39 says, “and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt.” Israel was not mentally prepared to move on and it caused nothing but troubles. The same will be true with us if we don’t move on.
Second, realize that your self-pity affects others. You may not intend for it to be so, but when one is constantly wallowing in the mire of his past, others know it and can feel it. Those who know you best will constantly ask you, “What is wrong?” They ask, not because they are nosey, but because they are concerned. The melancholy attitude associated with one who won’t let go of the past is depressing to others and often causes them undue stress because of their concerns. Also your miserable behavior simply makes those around you miserable as well. Therefore, if things don’t change, one might lose or alienate friends or cause them to change the way they react around you. This attitude will also affect your influence with others spiritually. Christians need to overcome these attitudes (E.g. – How can you teach others the joy of Christianity, when there is no joy in your life?)
Third, it is not healthy for you. Stress, which WILL result from this attitude, is NOT healthy. It affects you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Stress increases your chance of heart attack, blood pressure, depression, and can affect your appetite. That is NOT taking care of the body as the Christian is commanded to do (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Fourth, confess your concerns to a trusted friend. It has been said that confession is good for the soul. That is a statement that has been proven to be true. If you are dealing with a past that you can’t seem to overcome, that truly is a burden and you need help dealing with it. As Christians, one blessing we have is others to whom we can turn with our burdens. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” He was telling us to bring our burdens to Him. Peter tells us to cast all our cares upon God because He cares about us (1 Peter 5:7). God does not want us to bear our burdens alone. Christians are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). If you have burdens, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
Find someone in whom you can confide your hurts and failures. James said, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jas. 5:16) Now in this I am not saying that we should necessarily broadcast our past to everyone we see, because that could lead to more problems later on. Sadly there are many who simply do not know how to properly handle what they are told by others in confidence. But if we can find a trusted friend, perhaps someone who has been through some of the struggles we are facing, it can help us put the past behind us.
Finally, having forgiven yourself and done the things mentioned, we now must keep busy doing good things in the present. There is enough good things to do that we read about in the Bible to keep us busy for a lifetime. If we will keep busy doing all that we ought to be doing, there will be little time left to dwell on our past. I am reminded of what Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul had a past he could have dwelt on, but he simply didn’t have time for that. He was too busy saving souls, praying to God, doing good works for the brethren, preaching the word and writing to churches to let the past drag him down. And besides GOD HAD FORGIVEN HIM (1 Corinthians 15:10) so he moved on.
And so should we. In this study we have noted how the past is certainly something to be managed in our lives. While we need to learn from it so that we will not repeat the same mistakes, we should not let it haunt us lest we become less that what God would have us to be. I am certain there are other exercises you can add to these, but if we will do the things presented here with due diligence, we can put the past behind us and live in the present. And may we always keep moving forward with our eyes steadily on the goal of heaven which will be ours “if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9) “But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow , and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."” Luke 9:62 TATJR