Forget The Past, And Reach For The Prize!
by Eric Eitel
We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 (New Living Translation)
Whether you are on the worship team, in the choir, or in the media booth, every one of us is putting ourselves at risk. When something goes wrong, it is public and embarrassing, and the shame doesn’t just shake off immediately. Maybe a mic was left off or had a dead battery, or you hit a loud off-key note or missed a sliding cue, and you feel like everyone heard it, or saw it, and will be thinking about nothing else for the rest of the service. Color me red.
As the servant leader of MediaShout, I find that all the dissonance of pain, regret, shame, sadness, insecurity, fear, anxiety, and stress can sometimes lead to despair. 2020 has been vicious. Even when things are entirely outside of my control, I am responsible.
A few days ago, I woke up and was feeling the weight of it all; the agony of betrayal, theft, deceit by once-trusted friends, the helplessness my team and I felt during an unforeseen and torturously long delay of our most recent release, and every wrong decision I’ve made over the last, oh say fifty-six years or so. I was going at it. I slumped in my armchair in my home office, pulled my rolling tray table with my Bible and journal on it towards me, and wallowed. Self-pity and self-degradation are a slippery slope. There was nowhere to hide. I closed my eyes and said, “God, please help me.” Being quiet for a moment, I heard in that small still voice, “First Thessalonians.” Opening my Bible, I read in chapter one:
As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. -1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 (New Living Translation)
God had whispered to me the exact words I needed to hear. That is a miracle, a faith-building timely wink from God. I just needed to know that God loved me, and despite all the ups and downs of life, we are all here for a purpose, and I have my part to play. I felt at peace. A living God heard my prayer, knew my pain, and led me to these words.
Yes, I had made some bad decisions, and yes, some people had hurt me, and Lord knows I have hurt other people during my time on earth, but I felt like all of that dropped away. I just felt God’s love and acceptance. I was awash in a refreshing stream of God’s love, joy, and peace.
Then, I remembered a favorite scripture from Philippians 3.
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 2:13-14 (New Living Translation)
We cannot change the past. We can only repent for our sins, ask forgiveness for our failures, and let the Word of God renew our minds for tomorrow. Tomorrow is full of hope and opportunity. My sister Linda echoed this verse from Isaiah 43:18-19:
“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 (NKJV)
Now I was ready to get up and spread the knowledge of God’s love, forgiveness, and Grace. The past is behind me. I did my best. It is time to learn from it and move forward to answer the call in my life. If you are ever feeling this way, I hope you will do the same. Just go to the Word of God and let the scriptures renew your mind. Let go of the past. Go forward with a new lease on life and reflect the love of Jesus to everyone you meet.
About the author:
Eric Eitel began his career in education in institutional development. He has enjoyed serving Phillips Academy, Andover, Yale School of Medicine; Choate; and Columbia Law School. Eric has traveled the world. He opened the first World Vision Office in Greenwich, CT, helping create relief and development programs in developing world countries. He spent much of those six years working in twelve different countries on the African continent, South America, and Eastern Europe. He became CEO of MediaShout in 2011 and sees no end in sight.