Living in Color - Encouragement Café - August 22, 2017

Living In Color
By Beth Mabe Gianopulos

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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 3:12-14 (NIV)

A few months ago, we received a dreaded phone call from school – one of my children had lice.  As soon as we picked up the kids, we began to treat their hair with a special medication.  We also methodically combed their hair with a special comb.  We had to wash and dry everything – sheets, pillows, and stuffed animals. 

We had to vacuum our couch, the carpet, and any other surface that could have lice.  The work was tedious and detailed.  However, we were thorough because we had learned how quickly lice can spread.  If just one or two of the lice survived, our work would be for nothing.

Small regrets can spread rapidly like lice, and if you don’t kill the small regrets quickly, they will multiply until they consume you.  For years, I have struggled to escape the downward spiral of regret.  When something triggers a memory of a past mistake, a single regret rapidly multiplies and taints every associated memory. 

In those moments, I can’t see my past, present, or future clearly.  It is as if vividly colored memories of my past are transformed to black and white.  The light in my memories is dimmed with gray clouds of sadness.  Before I realize what has happened, I am unable to recognize Christ's plan for my life right now.

My regrets and sadness consume me, surrounding me like a dark cloud that prevents Christ's light from fully shining on me and through me.

Paul also realized that allowing our minds to linger in the past is dangerous.  In Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV), Paul says, “...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.”

Paul recognized that while we may learn from our past, the time that matters is right now. Until we draw our last breath, we have life left to live - and in living our life, there is always more to learn and more that we can do to become more like Christ.

Paul also understood that to persevere - to press forward - we have to have laser-like focus on our goal. If we are looking behind us at our past, we will be distracted and veer off course.  So Paul presses on toward what is ahead - looking only at Christ.

Do you struggle with looking back? Are you drowning in regret? Do you fail to see the beauty that stretches before you because you are only able to see the fleeting moments that have already past? Do not let the past rob you of the present. 

When regret begins to seep in, recognize the regret and put it behind you.  Ask God to help you stop focusing on the past so that you can fully focus on the adventure and life that is ahead of you.  Step out of the gray past and run with abandon into the light. 

Jesus, help us stop focusing on regrets and mistakes of the past.  When we begin to focus on what is behind, draw our eyes to what is in front of us.  Help us focus on You and the plans that You have for us.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2017 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Tuesday, 22 August 2017.