Clinging to the “If Only’s”
GROVE, OK – “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” — Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV).
Trying to back out of my friend’s curved driveway, I had to make several attempts to keep from running over several bushes. Even with a dashboard back-up camera, it was a challenge to maneuver my car safely onto the street without doing any damage.
My friend, seated on the passenger side, admitted she wasn’t very good at backing up either. Her solution was to turn her vehicle around in the wide drive so she could leave the premises facing forward.
How often do we navigate life’s challenges, clinging to our mistakes, regretting our choices and failing to move forward because we haven’t released our past to the One who loves us more than life itself? God never meant for us carry that weight.
Letting go is one of the hardest things we face. It’s easier for us to hold onto regrets, mistakes, guilt, failures, hurt, fear, anger and worry than to allow God to use them for His glory.
British author C.S. Lewis once said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
Moving forward means looking through the lens of faith to see the possibilities. God is in the possibility business. In Mark 10:27, Jesus tells His disciples that “With man, this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul says, “Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
When we live in the past, we can’t embrace God’s best. It’s like looking in the rearview mirror while trying to drive forward.
It took me years to let go of the past, but I couldn’t have done it without my Savior and Lord. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
That’s what Jesus does when we relinquish our “If only’s” to Him. He replaces our past mistakes with something new, not just once, but every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.”
In an article by Whitney Hopler, she offers this advice: “Recognize the difference between learning from the past and letting it control you. Understand that it’s healthy to look back as long as you’re learning from your past and remembering how God has worked in your life. But beware of becoming so preoccupied with your past that it begins to dictate your present and future. Don’t let your past define you; that’s God’s job.”