The Past Is Gone

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As I walked over the bridge, the view in front of me stopped me in my tracks: the rusty railings lining the steps, the path leading nowhere, the fenced-off area of waste ground ahead of me, abandoned and overgrown.  What struck me was the emptiness of it all.

I’m sure people passing by wondered why I was standing there staring, why I had to stop and take a photo of this scene, but it was one of those moments that felt significant, like God had something to say, and I wanted to press in to hear what it was.

The thing is, I had been here before, many times.  Back then, what is now the waste ground was the site of my high school.  Back then, the path led directly towards the music department.  Back then, it looked more like this:

music-department

Back then, the music department was my happy place, and music undoubtedly saved me from a lot in high school.  This was a place where I felt welcome and valued, that I belonged and I had something to offer.  It was where break and lunch times were spent rehearsing, jamming or just chatting.  By my final year I think I was in seven different ensembles or choirs so I was often there after school as well, sometimes even before school.

It was a place that held many happy memories: of fun and friendship, of CD recordings and concerts, of triumph and celebrations when, against all the odds, our wind band won a national competition.

I remember it as a place full of joy and full of life, so, even though I knew it had been knocked down and even though this wasn’t the first time I had passed by since then, there was something about coming at it from that angle, over the bridge, right up to the steps that used to lead to the music department, that made the fact that it no longer existed seem very real.

As I tried to listen to what God was saying, it came- just four words:

“The past is gone.”

It sounds obvious, but it made me think.  In this case I felt a little sad to know that the place where I had spent so many happy hours was gone, that I could never go back to see it even if I wanted to.

But the day before, I had been to another place associated with memories of the past- a less happy, more painful past- and although the person who caused the pain is gone, and although I wasn’t returning to exactly the same place, it is never easy going back there.  Memories and emotions and unanswered questions are stirred every time, and although the situation now is very different, it never feels like the past is completely left behind.

Just seeing the site where the school had been brought it home to me though: the past is gone.

Of course the past will continue to have an impact.  We can hold on to happy memories and lessons learned.  A lot of the joy I find in music today is down to the foundation that was laid back then, and I am grateful for the legacy of that place and the people there.

Past pain will also continue to have an impact, but it is not something that needs to keep us bound or that we need to fear or give undue power, because the past is gone- it is like a shadow; it has no substance.  The reality is today, and God is doing something new!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

There are advantages in looking back, in reflecting on things that have happened and learning from them, but we can’t live in the past.  It is gone!

If we want to move forward, we can’t keep looking back.  A glance in the rear view mirror is helpful from time to time, and there may be times when we have to look back in more detail to process and to heal, but if our aim is to move on, our focus has to be on where we are now and on the road ahead.  The past is gone; the reality is today.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

If our trust is in Jesus we are made new and, whatever happened in the past, there is hope, because he walks with us in the present and he came to give us a wonderful future.

 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“My lover said to me, “Rise up, my darling!  Come away with me, my fair one!  Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.  The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.  The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.  Rise up, my darling!  Come away with me, my fair one!””  (Song of Songs 2:10-13 NLT)

   

 Crystal Twaddell      Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up        

 

 

 

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24 thoughts on “The Past Is Gone

  1. Hi Carly,
    What an eerie photo of a walkway leading to nowhere! I’m pondering your poignant words of how time moves us on, leaving us with only memories. I love the verses you included since yes, God does call us on and forward to new things and even though it seems like happier days are behind us, our good heavenly father always wants to show us more! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I’ve not been called Carly for a while- maybe the past isn’t gone as much as I thought! 🙂
      Seriously though, it is encouraging to think that whatever lies behind us, God has new things in store.

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  2. Love this Lesley. So often posts of yours come as confirmation…and now again. I have Ephesians 2: 19 – 22 MSG on my fridge for this very reason. I step back from the paths God is leading me on (paths way past my comfort zone), when I listen to the accuser remind me of the lies that caused me to turn from God’s love as a teenager. YES: He IS making all things new. Thank you for this and if you have a moment tomorrow will you pray with me: one friend has an appt at the city council about a house (she’s a refugee and lives with two kids in the refugee center) and another is visiting to share her pain-ridden past with me (God is doing mighty things in her). Both women would covet prayers right now. Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Anna! I’m glad this post spoke to you. I think we all need reminders to let go of the past at times.
      Of course I will pray for your friends tomorrow, and for you as you listen to you friend share her pain. I know you will be a great encouragement to her.

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  3. How sad to see a bridge leading to nowhere, Lesley. Especially when what was beyond it held good memories for you and is now gone. The memories are still in your heart though! I’m so glad music helped you a lot through high school. This line really resonates with me – “A glance in the rear view mirror is helpful from time to time, and there may be times when we have to look back in more detail to process and to heal, but if our aim is to move on, our focus has to be on where we are now and on the road ahead.” So true. I’m so grateful you understand the process of healing. This reminds me of the difference in counselors I have had in the past. Sometimes I felt like I was not progressing forward but was getting held tighter in the grips of past abuse. The last one I had was a Godsend. While helping me to deal with the pain, she kept pointing forward to Christ and I finally felt more hope towards healing. Thank you for your encouragement! God bless you! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is sad to see it now but I’m grateful for so many happy memories there.
      I’m glad you found a counsellor who was able to help. I think it’s hard sometimes to find the balance between looking back to acknowledge the pain and deal with it, but also looking ahead and seeking to move on. Looking to Jesus is always helpful though. I’m so glad you found hope to move on in healing. Hugs!

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  4. Hi Lesley! Seeing your high school gone must have been a jarring sight. Was it expected? Maybe you knew already that it was gone.
    But the past is gone, that’s so true. Nothing we can really do but to remember that God is waiting to take us to our future. My word for this year is ‘now’ and your post speaks right to that, the importance of not living in the past ( although I think visiting it is okay, just not dwelling there), but seeing God and your life in the present.
    You learned a lot standing in that field. God bless you for taking your time to hear the Lord explain what he wanted you to know.
    God bless,
    Ceil

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ceil. Yes I knew it had been knocked down. I had even been past before but it was something about coming at it from that angle which made it all seem very real.
      I agree, visiting the past can be good but we can’t dwell there. It does tie in well with your focus on “now.” Blessings to you!

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  5. Wow, these words really hit a nerve with me today. I SO related to so much of what you said and have been working on a post about the things that jar our memories of our past, etc. It is so heavy and weighty to have such feelings and emotions, and your words really confirmed a lot of things in my mind. I can’t imagine how you must have felt standing there looking at what is and comparing it with what was. Than you for being faithful to share what God places upon your heart.

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  6. Oh wow, Lesley, that would make me a little heartsick too. Time marches on, but it takes our hearts a bit to catch up, doesn’t it? So glad we serve the God of the past, the present and the future. 🙂 Thanks for linking up at #ChasingCommunity today! ((hug))

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  7. Very powerful reflections, Lesley! As we think of our own journeys in life, it is so easy to hold onto the past. I want to cherish the good memories and try to forget the painful ones, but the hope we have is the beauty that God is making all things new! I love the verses you’ve shared on forgetting what lies ahead and looking forward to the newness we have in Christ! Thanks for sharing with Grace and Truth!

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  8. I stumbled upon your blog while searching up “God’s timing” on Pinterest. Which led me to this article. God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect! I have been working through the break up of a relationship that I thought was God’s will. Through the pain and loneliness, God has been patiently and lovingly teaching me to trust him and his timing. Recently, I have felt God tell me that it was time to let go. I have been getting stuck in the past. The words from a song have been sitting with me all week. When I read your last verse, there the words were again. Rise. Rise up. God does not want me to stay stuck in the past any longer. He is doing a new thing, both in my heart and in my life. I’m fixing my eyes on the road ahead of me, trusting God, even if I can’t see what is just around the corner! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Carla. I’m so glad that God led you to my post at the right time and that it reinforced what he was saying to you.
      It is hard when things don’t turn out as we hoped or expected and when we can’t see where God is leading us but we can trust in his goodness.
      Praying for you, for strength to move on and that you know God leading you as you move forward.

      Like

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