Move on From Your Past this Lent
One of the main themes of Lent is spiritual change and rebirth. Easier said than done. One of the problems many of us face is moving on from our past mistakes and experiences. We can become chained to our past – either not forgiving ourselves or others. To truly embrace becoming a new creation in Christ – we have to let go of the old.
Did you know that forgiving ourselves and others is not an option? Its not something we should have the luxury of deciding whether or not to do. We are commanded to do so by Jesus – (Matthew 6:14-15 in no uncertain terms). And in the age-old adage: “We must forgive others for ourselves, not for them.”
Cut off sin from your past
In (Philipians 3:13) Paul says: “but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead”.
Paul had much to leave behind in his past – murder and hatred of the church dominated his life before his conversion. He had been deceived and thought he was doing God’s work by rooting out people he thought were corrupting Judaism. He spent the rest of his life making reparation for those sins I suppose you could say – but notice he did not dwell on them extensively, nor did he fall for the old trick of thinking himself unworthy of the mammoth task he had been given of spreading the Gospel. He knew he had been forgiven by God and he forgave himself. Cut off sin from your past – as Pope Francis says: “Stop discussing things with Satan.”
Forgive others and ask forgiveness
These are just about the hardest things any Christian can do. Key word here is ‘Christian’ – with Christ’s help all things are possible. Rest assured that ‘he goes before you always…and he will give you rest’. (Deuteronomy 31:8) God in his graciousness has forgiven us much and we should forgive as we are forgiven. We know that when we ask for forgiveness, He grants it (1 John 1:9). If God’s forgiveness is limitless, then ours should try to be as well. (Luke 17:3-4). In other words if we have truly experienced God’s forgiveness then it should follow naturally that we forgive others.
An unforgiving spirit will damage our fellowship with God. Always remember that if we carry this with us, we will also be carrying the sin of anger, which almost always spills over to the rest of our lives. Think road rage, irritability and overreaction to trivial things.
Most importantly, if we don’t try to get these things right in our lives, there will be gaps in our walk with the Lord. We want to walk in the light always. Because the opposite – if we say we have communion with him and walk in darkness, we do not practice the truth. (1 John:1:6)
Remember your baptismal promises to God
We promised to reject Satan, all his works and empty promises. We promised that we believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father and in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. These things are much more important than any hurt or insult that we may feel – it simply overshadows all our human drama.
In confirmation we received the seal of the Holy Spirit and promised to continue in our Christian life as soldiers of God and that means being brave enough to forgive others and ourselves. There may be a few ‘Dark night of the Soul’ moments along the way but “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).
To quote Pope Francis: “There is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the concrete God, so to speak, is today. For this reason, complaining never helps us find God.”