My undergraduate degree is in History, and one of the things we historians say is that history tends to repeat itself. This is (usually) because people don’t know their own history, so when the same types of events that caused one historical tragedy begin to coalesce once more, people can’t “read the warning signs” of the beginnings of another tragedy.
That’s a “world” view, meaning what we humans are taught. But God’s view is different.
God says to forget the past, and I think He has the better idea. After all, how can one look towards the future when you are always reviewing the past? I never liked the Jewish ….what do I call it? A celebration? a Holiday? I am thinking of Yom Hashoah, the remembrance of the Holocaust. It is a day where I have seen the Sanctuary of a synagogue covered in black and with pictures of the concentration camps. A day devoted to the past, with people reliving the horrors, they cry over things from half a century ago and their anger burns anew.
I don’t really want to remember the past because when we do we get mired in it. Yeshua said that anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back isn’t fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62) so if we want to grow in the Lord and do more for God, we need to forget the past.
Doesn’t God forget the past? You bet He does, and thank Him for that! He tells us that when we are forgiven our past sins are as far from us as the East is from the West; that although we are stained scarlet red, we will be washed clean as new snow; that He will blot out the memory of our sins and they will be no more. That’s what forgetting the past is all about.
Forgetting the past means we have to let it go. If you hold on to something old, you can only have one hand left for reaching out to grab something new. I remember in the martial arts classes I took that when someone grabs you with both hands, like you always see in the movies, that means both their hands are unable to protect them, and both your hands are free to attack them. It’s like the story of the person in the water holding on to their heavy bag of valuables- they want to be saved but they are dragged down to their death because they won’t let go. What they are saving from their past is preventing them from having a future.
Whatever has happened to us in the past, happy or sad, we need to let it go in order to grow in the Spirit. Given a choice, I would prefer to hold on to the happy memories and forget the bad ones, but even happy memories can be a hidden trap. You can’t hold on to something and let it go at the same time, so anything and everything of the past, good and bad, must be released so we have both hands free to grab hold of the future.
This is a hard word to hear, and even harder to do. I am no further along than you are, believe me, and I wish I could just forget so many things. Actually, I do forget a lot of things, but they are recent and important, like the names of people I see when worshipping every Friday, what I was supposed to bring home from work, and to turn the alarm on at night. I DO remember Donna’s birthday, our wedding anniversary and when we had our first date. I may be forgetful, but I’m not suicidal!
The point of today’s Drash is that we need to remember to forget. Put the pain behind us, put the sadness behind us, and look to the future. I know people, one in particular, who can’t forget the past because she wants it to be different. Apologies never helped make her feel better, and “venting” didn’t vent out the anger; it only added oxygen to the fire. I truly believe that “getting it off our chest” is a lie from the pit of Sheol- when we relive the pain, the frustration and the anger all it does is re-open the wound. You can’t heal a cut by pulling at it- you cover it, and forget about it.
God tells us, over and over, to look to the future. He says when we return and ask forgiveness for the past, He will forgive and it will be no more. Not an event, not a memory, not even a faint recollection of something that once happened. It will be as if it never was. All the Prophets told of the upcoming judgements, and they always ended up with a promise of future reconcilement, a regathering of the people and the establishment of God’s kingdom on Earth. The Bible is chock-full of God telling us to forget our past and concentrate on our future with Him.
There is no hope in the past, the present is over in a heartbeat, so the future is all that is left to us if we want to make things better. The world says to remember the past and memorialize that which has happened; God says to look to Him for a better future and to work towards the goal: as Shaul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24, we must run the race in such a way as to win the prize.
No one wins a race looking back.