One of the keys to success is being disciplined enough to weigh out your decisions but once you make your decision, go for it. Hesitations and holding on to past failures only hinder you from performing your best in the present. You can see the difference in baseball players who strike out. One will be upset and display anger and rage at the umpire and carry his anger into the field where he often makes an error as he focusses on the past, while another player is quick to put the past out of his mind and know his teammates are counting on him to be the best that he can be in the present. It’s not that the second player doesn’t care, it’s that he knows the past does not have to equal the future so it’s time to learn and move on.
The Bible has some great counsel on this subject, both in direct guidelines as well as examples. Take for instance Abraham who left his homeland and followed the direction of God. Notice in the passage below the words that “if they (Abraham and Sarah) had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.” In other words, if they had focused on the past, they would have looked for a way to get back there.
Hebrews 11:13–16 (ESV) — 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Notice how Jesus takes this concept and applies it to following Him. You can’t follow Him if you are thinking about what you are giving up.
Luke 9:61–62 (ESV) — 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 17:32–33 (ESV) — 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
The apostle Paul also teaches on the subject as a test of maturity as sometimes we look to the past and see how far we’ve advanced, and we tend to get satisfied or complacent. On the other hand, there are those who see their failures from the past and allow that to crowd their minds which keeps their eye off the prize.
Philippians 3:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
So, what do you do? First, when you have made mistakes you admit them and not hide them. Hiding them keeps the sin ever before you because you know inside you cannot hide a sin from God. When you make a mistake in life or you sin – admit and turn from it.
Proverbs 28:13 (ESV) — 13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s true! Look at the experience of David below:
Psalm 51:7–13 (ESV) — 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
David confessed it and admitted his error. Rather than dwell on it, he sought the empowerment from God to move forward and you can too. The past does not have to equal the future if we are willing to admit our wrong, turn from it, and focus on moving forward in the race of life.
Proverbs 24:16 (ESV) — 16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
Secondly, once you’ve admitted an error or recognized a setback, pick yourself up and get back in the race of life – focused on what is before resisting the temptation to look back. By God’s grace and focusing on His strength and power you can do overcome the temptation to look back.