Commentary Deep Change

Radical Forgetfulness: Forgetting Your Yesterdays

6 months ago
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Radical Forgetfulness: Forgetting Your Yesterdays

We knew our enemies’ intent was to intimidate us into stopping our work. They reasoned, “These Jews will stop rebuilding out of fear and discouragement. Progress will grind to a halt.” Instead I renewed my dedication, strengthened my hands.

Nehemiah 6:9 Voice

Discouragement is one of the deadliest emotional forces known to man. This debilitating emotion erodes faith, feeds fear, and saps our determination to see God’s vision for our lives come true.

Few things foster discouragement more than our memories of the past, which is what Nehemiah was fighting against in Nehemiah 6:9. He had come to lead a group of people who had been thoroughly defeated in their efforts to make God’s dream a reality (Nehemiah 1:2-3), so when enemies came to stop the progress of their renewed efforts, he found himself fighting not only the opposition of the moment but also their memories of the past.

Nehemiah 6:9 teaches us about the spiritual leadership of Nehemiah and how he met the challenge of fear and discouragement by renewing his dedication to God. For all of us who face the limits of yesterday’s memories, we can learn from Nehemiah’s example and renew our dedication to God by practicing “Radical Forgetfulness”. Here is how we can do it.

Forget Your Yesterdays

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. [19] See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

God is a god of the future, not the past. Whether we look at the Old Testament promise of Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV) which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”, or we read Hebrews 8:13 and the truth that God made his old covenant “obsolete” to usher in a new and better one, the lesson is the same – God is a god of the future.

With this in mind, we need to be people who practice a future faith focused on our tomorrows and not our yesterdays. This means we must resist the temptation to “dwell on the past,” so God can do new things in our lives. More than anything in the context of Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV), the enduring lesson about God is that He is a god of the future.

So, how do we forget our yesterdays and begin living for our future? There are four simple steps:

1) Forget Yesterday’s Successes

The first thing we need to do is stop glorying in the past. Like the old saying on the t-shirt, “The older I get, the better I was”, by glorifying the past too much, we won’t allow God to do greater things in the future.

2) Forget Yesterday’s Failures:

We have all heard it said that failure isn’t fatal, but the majority of us struggle to believe it. We need to forget yesterday’s failure by first learning the vital lessons it can teach us about how to be successful in the future, then deciding to never allow it to define who we are meant to be.

3) Forget Yesterday’s Goals:

Sometimes we reach our goals sooner than we realize, something that can unfortunately lead us to stop dreaming about tomorrow. If we have reached or exceeded our original goals, we need to forget them, realizing they were departure gates and not destinations. Then we can develop new ones that will allow God to give us that unimaginable life we have been afraid to even dream of.

4) Forget Yesterday’s Way:

Once we have forgotten our successes, failures, and past goals, then we need to be willing to forget the way we have lived in the past. In other words, instead of being change-resistant we need to become change-resilient, where we are willing to change our mind, our plans, and the way we live so God can take us into a more amazing life than we originally envisioned.

Radical forgetfulness allows us to leave yesterday in our rear-view mirror and get out on the open road in pursuit of life’s undiscovered tomorrows. Why not start forgetting today, so God can make your tomorrows greater than your yesterdays.

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Russ Ewell serves as Director of BACC Next, where he is tasked with thinking about the future.