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Let Us Stop Looking Backward and Start Looking Forward 

The closing and the beginning of a New Year brings us to such a point where we can stand and choose to look behind, or to look unto the New Year in which we are entering.  

“Many of us enter into the New Year with regrets and burdens of the past year.”

It is said that the name of January is from the name of the Roman god, Janus, which is known to be the god of beginnings. He is understood to be the god of the first hour of each day, first day of each month, and the first month of each year. Janus is depicted as a male. He has two faces, one face looks backward and the other face looks forward.

There are some people who find it very hard to look forward. They always look toward their past and always focus on their past failures. In fact, they spend the whole of their life in the past.

“There are some individuals who chew or concentrate and grumble on the bitterness of their past.”

Others focus on the memories and beauties of their past, but enjoy their present. It is good to remember the sweet memories of the past. But it is bad to remember the sweet memories of the past and fail to work hard in the present for a better and brighter future.

“It is very tragic and destructive to focus on the past negativity.”

Have you heard someone say, “This person treated me so badly in the past that I could never forget him. When I think of all those bad things, it really boils my blood. I can never forgive him.” Those people who always live in their deprived, divided past are never able to enjoy their present or their future. For such people New Year has no significance, nor does it bring any change in their lives. Their bitterness, failures, regrets, discouragements, tensions, frustrations enter with them into the New Year.

Let’s look at the past year for just a moment. For some of us the past year was the year of depravity, sickness, sufferings, physical disability, death of a spouse, or financial crises. For some the year was graced with financial prosperity, success in studies, getting married, overseas travel, meeting with loved ones after a very long period of time (reunion), construction of a new home, promotion in the job, or an increase in salary.What were the incidents, happenings, or attitudes of your relatives and loved ones which became very bitter realities to you and left deep, unforgotten impression on your mind? Does it seem that you will never forget those impressions which are so deep in your soul and mind?

By the grace of God almighty, and with your efforts, these impressions can be wiped away. To get rid of our bitterness and our dark past we must forgive, from the depths of our heart, those who have done wrong against us.

“Are you not like the Roman god, Janus, whose one face constantly looks backward?”

In the Old Testament, the Lord took the Israelites out of Egypt and wanted them to look forward, toward the Promised Land, and to keep moving forward. But the Israelites chose to focus on Egypt (which was their past), criticizing their present situation and absolutely ignoring their future.

By comparison, we see when God took Abraham out of the Ur of Chaldeans. Abraham never looked backward. He was meditating on the promises of God, and he was moving forward.

In the New Testament, Saint Paul writes to the church at Philippi,“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3: 12-14)

a.       It does not mean that Paul had a poor memory.

b.      It does mean that whatever he achieved, he was not satisfied with that.  

c.       These successful events could make him stagnant and paralyzed.

d.      With great determination he was moving forward.

e.       He knew his call.

f.        He was certain about his reward in heaven.

Although Saint Paul passed through many hard times, he writes to the saints in the Church at Corinth, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, and I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”(2Corinthians 11:23, 27)

Saint Paul experienced difficulty and his life was threatened several times, but he never gave up. He writes, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Paul was very confident that the “One” who gives him strength, encouragement, purpose in life, direction, energy and vigor, can do everything by His power. What great faith Saint Paul had!

How shall we celebrate and spend our New Year?

a.       We must forget past bitter realities

b.      Ignore the wrong doings of others

c.       We must be realistic

d.      We must confess the wrong doings that we have committed, and ask forgiveness from God

e.       We must accept God’s unchanging and unconditional forgiveness

f.        Instead of spending our lives in the shadows of our dark and bleak past we must spend our lives in the light of the present

g.       We must hope for a better future in the Lord.

Life is like a marathon and each coming year has a very essential role in this race. For an athlete it is very essential to look forward. When we watch the scenario of racing we see that:

a.       It all depends on looking forward

b.      If an athlete looks behind time and again, it is certain he will fall down

c.       He will certainly lose the race.

Saint Paul wrote to the saints at Corinth, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24b)  And in Hebrews 12:1-2, we read,“Let us throw off every thing that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” The author points out certain conditions for winning the race:

a.       We have to set aside our burdens

b.      We must run patiently

c.       We must look forward and fix our eyes on Jesus who is the perfecter of our faith.

d.      We have to win the race .

We must stop looking backward and start looking forward. Let us keep pressing on in the Lord with hope and joy. If we do so, then the future will be bright for us.

“For a believer in Christ the future is as bright as the morning sun.”

God bless you.

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