2016 is over. For some it was a year to remember, full of significant milestones. However, statistics suggest 2017 couldn't have come fast enough for many Americans who were simply ready to say good riddens to 2016. A recent Harris poll says only one in three Americans say they’re happy. Think about it. That means two out of three Americans say they are not happy which translates into roughly 200 million unhappy people! Friends, we have our work cut out for us.
We all have a tendency to think if we can just forget the past, we can anticipate having a brighter future. We convince ourselves if we can just pretend the past didn’t happen our lives would change. While there is some truth in that, the apostle Paul gives us some additional insight:
but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT)
Notice the steps Paul gives us here:
- Forgetting the past - we can't change a single moment of the past. All we can do is learn from it. Regardless of the consequences, good or bad, it’s done. It’s more than pretending it didn’t happen. Forgetting is forgiving both others and ourselves. It’s the freedom God has given us to turn our heads back around.
- Look forward to what lies ahead - this is an active inner process. This is similar to an engaged couple looking forward to the wedding day. They wake every day knowing that while they’re in the state of engagement there’s a day to come where they will one day be husband and wife. They can't wait for what lies ahead. And it’s often the anticipation of the future that gives them the endurance to press forward.
- Press on - this means we take steps toward something. That engaged couple I spoke of earlier looks toward their wedding day, but there are still things that need to be put in place before the big day. A license has to be secured. Invitations have to go out. Food has to be scheduled, etc. It’s an exhausting list that can’t be done in one day. It will take some pressing for that engaged couple to find themselves at the altar. It’s the same pressing we need as we allow God to guide our steps into a better future, even when we may not know the path we’re taking to get there.
Pressing on is just as vital as forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. But it is also the part many fail to consider. When we don't take some active steps, dreaming of what lies ahead can begin to fade which opens the door to living in the past instead of forgetting it. Just imagine what might happen if that couple forgets about the beautiful day set before them and constantly looked towards their past single lives. They might find themselves fighting and giving up on their relationship.
When we take steps toward something, it leads to the fourth and final step: receiving.
It is the Father’s desire for you to receive all that he has for you in 2017. Luke 12:32 says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” God already has the desire to give us His kingdom. The joy, peace, freedom, prosperity, and love of God are in the hands of our Father ready to be handed over to us. So there’s nothing but good things to come if we continue to focus on what God has set aside for us.
So, if you are one of those who want to kiss 2016 good bye, then my challenge for you today is to think about the active steps you are going to take this year towards that fresh start or that dream.
I believe 2017 can be our best year yet. Join me as we press for it. Maybe your first step is simply taking the 30-day challenge to spend time with God.