Have you ever felt like there is some hidden, untapped potential in your life that is just out of your reach or sight? You know that the future could hold some breakthrough for you but you can’t quite catch up to it. God often has a plan for us that is just out of the grasp of our daily lives. More often than not, however, it is not God’s plan that is holding us back, but rather it is the past we are clinging to that prevents us from achieving our full promise.
One of the most interesting stories of WWII was that of Hiroo Onoda. Mr. Onoda, a Japanese intelligence officer was sent to the Philippine Islands to thwart enemy forces with orders to never surrender or take his own life. Soon after his arrival in 1945 the Allied forces seized control of the islands, so Mr. Onoda and a small band of soldiers took to the hills to wage a guerilla campaign. Not long thereafter the war came to an end. His group had been decimated but Onoda remained steadfast, refusing to surrender. Years passed, leaflets were dropped and contact was made to convince him that the war was indeed over, but Lieutenant Onoda fought on, even after the rest of his soldiers were captured or killed. Amazingly, not until his commanding officer, long since retired, returned to the Philippines and personally relieved him of command did he peacefully surrender. The year was 1974, 29 years after the war had officially ended!
It is tempting to dismiss a story like this as extreme or an aberration, yet most of us know someone who has carried a grudge, mistake or past misdeed for just as long. In fact, most of us can relate in part to the story. We have fought real battles in our daily lives and the scars and carnage of those battles still linger. For some of us, the battle rages on in our psyche and our soul with such intensity that it consumes our lives and defines who we are long after the war is over and the rest of the world has moved on.
How many of us have been so torn up by a past divorce or bad relationship that we cannot enjoy a current relationship that is immeasurably better? Who among us has been aggrieved by a family member and clung to that in such a way that it still impacts family relations?
The past is a not entirely void of merit, but its merit lies in the preparation for the future. It is the learning and preparation that put us in position to grasp our full potential. Reliving or hanging on to the past chains us to it and becomes the millstone which prevents our actualization through God’s plan.
Our trials and tribulations are designed to prepare us for our destiny. The Scriptures tell us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, including a time to move on. Under God we are meant to pass from darkness unto light, from tribulation unto victory. We cannot fully know the light according to 1 John unless we have forgiven others as we are forgiven. Our forgiveness of transgressions, those of others’ making and those of our own making, is what sets us free from the bonds of our past.
God certainly has a plan for each of us and there is much in our lives for which to fight. Fighting old battles rarely if ever leads us to our future. Instead let us forgive, embrace our full promise according to God’s divine plan and fight the good fight!