Let Go of the Past and the Future

In Matthew 6:33-34, Jesus teaches, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Living life fully without worry can seem to most like an impossible task. Living our lives today and not focused on the past or the future can also prove to be just as difficult. Jesus tells us to live in the present, but it is not easy. We can be sure that if Jesus is telling us to let go of the past and the future and live in the present, that it is something we can do with His help.

Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen says, “Celebrating life begins by affirming the present.” That is, we give thanks for each day and live it fully. We affirm who we are, what we are, where we've come from, and where we're going. It may sound absurdly simple to say, “Celebrating life begins by affirming the present,” for physically we obviously have little choice, but it is not easy to live mentally in the present. How many of us are haunted by the sins, mistakes and missed opportunities in the past? How often do our worries for the future keep us from celebrating our present lives?

Let’s look first at letting go of our past. Tammy Brown writes, “I had been through a traumatic divorce and been deeply wounded from years of fear and abuse. I felt in my heart I had failed God and was left with a deep sense of shame and guilt that I could not admit to anyone. Even though I pretended everything was fine on the outside my unspoken thoughts reflected a very troubled heart. I always seemed to be on the verge of panic and depression. I was not experiencing the abundant life that God tells me is available in John 10:10 (I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.) The life God had desired for me was being choked out by fear and unforgiveness.”

She found a Bible study called “Healed and Set Free” for people who were struggling as adults with abuse. She found she was able to forgive those that abused, rejected and hurt her. She celebrated how God redeemed the ashes of her life for beauty!

We can be free from the pains and shackles of the past! There is no greater gift than forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is one of the main keys for us to be free of our past, even in the most traumatic experiences we can imagine. (excerpted from hsfministries.org/healed-and-set-free-inspiration-stories_Trauma.php).

We also let our plans for future success, wealth, power, or concerns and worries for the future get in the way of living in the present. How often has something in the future seemed so important and even scary that it consumes our time and energy? Then the crisis passes and we look back and think, “That wasn't so bad.” I read a story about a seasoned disciple in his eighties who once advised his Sunday school class to always wait three days before beginning to worry about something in the future. He reasoned that the disciples had much to worry about after Jesus died on the cross. By Easter their worries were over. He had done this throughout his life and found that the same almost always occurred in his life, especially when he would lift up the things he wanted to worry about to the Lord in prayer.

People get so wrapped up in career goals and aspirations and/or securing financial security, and these concerns make it difficult to live in the present as well. As important as our jobs seem now, I've never met anyone who, on their deathbed, ever wished they'd spent more time at work. The regret is always that they hadn't spent more time living in the present with their family.

Do you have any regrets or struggles with your past? Do you struggle with issues of control and worrying about the future? What are some specific ways you are living in the past or worrying about the future that invades your present? Do you trust mainly in yourself to overcome your struggles? How can you trust your past and future to God in meaningful ways?