Are you “haunted” by mistakes you have made in life? Do the memories of those past blunders stand in the way of your continuing progress in the Christian faith?
Let’s face it. Mistakes happen. Early in my Christian experience, when I would talk with my father-in-law, Don Basham, about a blunder I had made, here was his very gracious response: “Richard, I think that’s why the eraser is on the end of the pencil.”
What was Don saying? Don’t dwell on the situations you have botched or bungled. Erase them and move on. What’s the message you and I need to hear? Forget your flubs.
Remembering “That Error”
Cindi and I recently attended a memorial service for Mike Reed, a wonderful man who had been a dear friend of ours for fifty years. Also present at the event were many colleagues and co-workers whom we had known over those fifty years, including a few of the fellows with whom I had played a lot of softball games during our time in Mobile.
As I was talking with one of those teammates after the service, he asked, “Do you ever think about that one game?” Instantly I knew which game he was remembering, and this was my reply: “ALL THE TIME.” The event in question was an important tournament game we had played together. Unfortunately, largely because of an error I had committed, our team lost the game and was knocked out of the tournament playoffs.
He apologized for bringing it up. But the recollection of the unpleasant event started us talking about the numerous professional athletes who had enjoyed stellar careers until they made “that one life-altering flub.” At that point in our conversation, my former teammate asked me a perceptive question: “Do you remember any of the great plays you made for our team?” My response this time? “Nope. Only the mistakes.”
What is the message again for all of us? You and I need to forget our flubs.
The “One Thing”
The next morning, probably because the conversation with this former teammate was fresh in my memory, the Lord brought to mind a helpful phrase from Scripture: “forgetting those things which are behind.” With that thought, I embarked upon a study of Philippians 3:12–16 which became my inspiration for writing this letter.
What Paul says in Philippians 3 is fascinating in a number of ways. First of all, Paul testifies in verse 13 that he is concentrating on only one thing. But then, Paul actually cites two separate actions. So, it is one thing—which is really two things. The first?
“Forgetting those things that are behind.” The second? “Reaching forward to those things that are ahead.” Those are two separate, significant actions you and I need to take.
But in this passage, what is the actual “one thing” which Paul does—and recommends for us to do as well? We find the answer in verse 14 (NASB): “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” What is the ultimate step Paul speaks of? The culmination of the other two steps? “I press on.”
Saying It Twice
The second fascinating aspect of this passage is the fact that two times in the space of three verses, Paul uses this same phrase: “I press on.” When that kind of repetition takes place, we need to take note. It is an important emphasis we can’t afford to ignore.
In his first usage in verse 12, Paul says, “But I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” The second time, in verse 14, Paul says: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Interestingly, there is a marginal note pertaining to verse 14 in the New American Standard Bible which connects it to Hebrews 6:1—another passage that talks about leaving something behind to press on toward something beyond the present. “Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching of the Christ, let us press on to maturity.”
Leave behind. Press on. It all begins with a needed first step: forgetting your flubs.
The Race Before Us
In a challenging message called, Endurance, Derek Prince speaks of our need to eliminate unnecessary weight from our lives (like guilt, regret, or condemnation, for example). Emphasizing the need for us to be free of every weight, Derek compares it to a runner who is about to engage in a long-distance race—something like a marathon.
Paul envisages a kind of Olympic Game setting with a race that has to be run. Right at the end, where the runners will break the finishing tape, there is a great throng of spectators waiting to watch who will win. This throng of spectators consists of all the great saints of the Old Testament who finished their course and are sitting there ready to cheer us on from the balconies of heaven.
So, when Paul says, “…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight” (Heb. 12:1), he is talking about running a race. The runner empties his pockets; he wears the lightest, most flexible clothing he can. He doesn’t carry a single, unnecessary ounce of weight [“the sin which so easily ensnares us”].
Some things are not sins—but they’re weight. They burden you down. They hold you back. They exhaust your strength. You spend too much time and attention on them, so that you can’t run the race.
Jettison the Baggage
Are you carrying unnecessary baggage? Are you dwelling on matters and mistakes that are keeping you from the present and future purposes the Lord has prepared for you? Why don’t you and I take a moment together now to clear out those hindrances?
Dear Lord, I recognize through what I have just read in this letter that I may have spent far too much time focusing on all the mistakes I have made. In the grand scale of all You desire to do in my life, those blunders and bungles don’t amount to a hill of beans, no matter how serious they may have been.
Right now, through the precious blood of Jesus, I clear them out of my mind and my spirit. I receive complete forgiveness for any of those errors, and I nullify their impact and effect upon my present and future in Jesus Christ.
Thank You, Lord, for making me aware of this necessary step. I will not dwell upon past mistakes or hurts. Instead, as Your Word says, I focus upon “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching toward those things which are ahead.” By Your grace, I will forget my flubs and press on. Amen.
A New Freedom
What you and I have just done may seem like an insignificant step—even routine and somewhat basic in nature. Nevertheless, our release from burdens and impediments that weigh us down or hold us back is priceless. It is nothing less than life and freedom!
Here at DPM, we want to do everything we can to support you as you step into new freedom in Jesus Christ. Possibly some of the materials by Derek Prince will help in the process. It would be our great honor to provide those for you.
Perhaps your first step might be to listen to Endurance, the message series which contains the quote we used earlier. It is yours for free, simply click on the link. Making Derek’s teaching available to you is just one small way for us to stand with you as you have stood with us through your prayers and your financial contributions. Thank you so much for all you have done through your partnership with us.
Eliminating Every Hindrance
I realize that a basic letter like this one may cover a topic you handled long ago in your Christian experience. If that is the case, I rejoice with you in the freedom you have enjoyed for many years of your life in Christ. Thanks for reading what we have shared.
However, it may be that the Lord has used this topic to expose an unrecognized burden—one that needs to be expunged from your life. If this letter has served to highlight that need and enable you to walk in a new level of freedom, I am so grateful!
Really, the freedom we have discussed is not only a one-time experience in our relationship with Jesus Christ. In the final analysis, it is more of a daily practice, enabling us to maintain a life that continues to be free and clear before the Lord.
The passage Derek cited comes to mind right now—the one which is my own life verse. Hebrews 12:1 (NASB):
“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
You and I have a race to finish—a journey the Lord Jesus Christ has laid out for us to complete. In following Him, what is the first step we need to take? Forget our flubs.