I am a train commuter. Not the Emily Blunt type who downs neat vodka as she stares glumly out of the window at her old house. No I’m more interested in what is going on inside the carriage. You see I’m a people watcher. And when I don’t have my nose stuck in my Kindle Fire I like to imagine the lives of my fellow travellers.
From the angry looking businessman with his mobile phone permanently attached to his ear. To the grey skinned, suited man who is the double of a top European football manager. I watch them all on my 25 minute journey to and from the city each day.
Same faces. Day after day. Maybe they look at me the same way and imagine what my life beyond the train is like. Or maybe they just try and avoid eye contact with the creepy guy with the Kindle Fire down the carriage. Either way it passes the time. Part of the daily routine.
But every now and again something unusual happens. And yesterday was one of those days. Seconds before the train pulled out of the station an elegant, elderly lady landed breathlessly in the seat opposite me. She chuckled to herself and commented on how close she had come to missing the train. Everybody smiled at her. She had pretty much secured the last seat in our carriage. She looked settled for the journey.
Ten minutes later we pulled into our first stop. Several passengers disembarked freeing up more seats. Quick as a flash the lady jumped up and took a seat facing in the opposite direction. ‘That’s better’ she remarked to her new neighbours. ‘I always prefer to look at where I’m going as opposed to where I’ve come from.’
My jaw dropped open at the wisdom of this simple, throwaway comment. We spend so much of our lives being defined and burdened by our pasts. The mistakes, the regrets, the missed opportunities. We spend our days mulling guiltily over the sins of yesterday.
Yes we need to understand and learn from our pasts in order to avoid making the same mistakes in our futures. But we can’t change the past. It’s happened. And if we spend too long looking back we will miss what is going on around us in the here and now. Or worse, fall flat on our face.
As a Christian I have struggled with my sinful past. Wishing I had lived my life differently. Reliving my failures on an endless blooper reel in my head. But that’s not the way God wants us to live. He says forget the past. It’s all been sorted. By Jesus on the cross.
He has given us hope and a new, bright future. All we have to do is grasp it. And live lives full of love, generosity and compassion. By looking forwards, and not back.
Isaiah 43:18 – 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?
Are you living today being tortured by your past?
Are you desperate to move forward but somehow can’t?
Do you need support or prayer? Please let us know so we can help you.