When I was a boy, and lived on a farm, we built wooden sleds that we would attach to the pulling harness of a mule. The sleds were rather small, and we did not weigh much, so the mule had absolutely no trouble in pulling them. Imagine if we changed out the mule, and put a sheep in its place…harnessing the sheep to the sled with a person on it. What would be the result? There would be no result, for the sheep is an animal that is not made to pull such weight, or to bear heavy burdens. If David is correct in his assessment of the Lord being our Shepherd, he is also in the assessment that we are sheep. There are weights, and burdens, which sheep just cannot bear.
The past can be such a burden. We live in a sinful world, where the effects of sin, with suffering, is apparent every day. We might want to escape such a context, but the reality is that we shall all know what it is to fail, and sin, and see the effects of sin, whether individually, or on a much larger scale. But here, we must grasp well certain realities. God has made provision for sin, and cleanses us in mind, heart, and soul, by the blood of Christ. He also has provided His Spirit to strengthen us, enabling us to get up and go on, to overcome and to “reign in life.” In essence, God has made perfect provision in Christ, because of His work and presence, in order that we can, with His authority, put the past behind, and leave it behind. How shall we ever honor Him in the present, and know the blessedness of His victory, if we are looking over our shoulder at that which is in the past? As far as I can see, we are called to remember only two things in the past: 1. We are to remember how God has led and provided for us (Ps. 105:5), and 2. We are to remember those who have spoken the word of God to us, “whose faith follow.” But all that is of sin and failure, we are to leave behind. We are not made to bear it.
When Lot’s wife looked back, the effects were catastrophic. When David looked back because of his sin, the effects were crushing. If we are to live free, and with our whole hearts in the present, then we must see the past as God sees it. This is why He says the same thing in the Old Testament, as well as in the New…”Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing…NOW it shall spring forth.” (Is. 43:18-19) The present moment is the opportunity of God to reveal Himself to the heart, so that His high purposes will be realized for His glory, and our good. Paul writes the same thing, “…but this ONE THING I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” (Phil. 3:13) Why does he say this, and qualify it by being “…this one thing I do…?” It is because it is essential.
It was said of David Livingstone that his desire and will was to go anywhere, as long as it was FORWARD. So, today, let us “cast aside every weight (care), and the sin that would so easily beset us (unbelief), and let us RUN with endurance, with a free heart…”…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith.” (Heb. 12:1) The more we look at Him, the more faith He gives. We will trust the One we know, and we will know the One we see and are occupied with. May the God of the immediate present )”I AM THAT I AM,” give us grace to leave the past behind, and stretch forth, to that which is before. And may we purpose in our hearts to run…and to run well. Again, “…faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24)