Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?

Gwen SmithBlog, Broken into Beautiful, Devotions, Encouragement, Faith, Freedom, Grace, Holiness 9 Comments

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God. Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Holy Lord,
Thank You for grace. Please help me move beyond the hurdles that trip me up and give me the strength and wisdom to look up and see the hope I run toward in Christ.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen



Struggling with this? Let me ask you a few direct questions {in love}. Do you really think that living in the past and letting it loom large in your now is helping you? Is it empowering you to grow in strength, dignity and joy? Is it fueling you toward the prize that awaits you in Christ? No? Then be done with it in Jesus’ name. Spend a few moments in prayer and write about this in your journal.

CLICK to TWEET: The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us. @GwenSmithMusic 

Woohooo! Now go get it today, friend!

Warmest Blessings,



Tired of life living you … instead of the other way around?

This study will help you:

* Step into the renewal and rest that is best for your weary, stressed-out heart so that you won’t be shaken by the swirling pace of this fast-moving world.

* Quiet feelings of loneliness, fear, and doubt by accepting the Biblical truth that even when you feel unseen, anxious, and afraid, God is present, peace-giving, and compassionate.

* Learn practical prayer points that will clear away heart clutter, calm concerns, and bolster believing.

JOIN US March 5 – April 9 as we study “I WANT IT ALL” by Girlfriends in God cofounder Gwen Smith. Sign up today for FREE:


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Comments 9

  1. Thank you Gwen for you baring your soul today. I feel the pain this caused you, as I too, walked this pain of guilt. For over 35 years I was totally guilt ridden for an abortion I didn’t know was going to happen to me. It was the late 1960’s, and I was incredibly naive. I didn’t know, until it happened to me, how you even got pregnant. When I found out I was, my boyfriend told me that we should check with another doc for a second opinion. I didn’t question his words, ever. He drove me to NYC and still I did not question. Got to this place, and they told me to take this pill. He said it would help with my nausea. Little did I know that I was at one of the early Planned Parenthood clinics and that it was valium that would throw me for an absolute loop. By the time they took me to the “exam” room, I was dizzy and almost out of it. At some point during the “exam” when a machine was turned on, I awoke out of my stupor and started screaming to stop. They knocked me out. I woke up hours later to learn what had happened. I had nightmares for years. Always about a little girl with blonde pigtails, dressed in a very specific dress, and when she called out to me and ran up to me, she always said, “Mommy you’re here!”, but I could never see her face. I was so tortured by my guilt, that when I married my boyfriend and he started beating me, I took it because, of course, it was my fault (or so I believed). My son was born a few years later, and we eventually escaped. I walked away from the church when it condemned me for wanting a divorce after he tried to kill me, but I kept Jesus hidden in my heart, always talking to Him, forever begging his forgiveness. Twelve years ago, I found my re-birthing in Christ and the blessed joy in understanding the fullness of our Lord’s complete forgiveness and understanding that we make mistakes. I now serve Him as mightily as I can in any way that He leads me. There is no fear, only joy. Nine years ago, when my son’s daughter was just 3 years old (my first grandchild), with her blonde hair in pigtails, and her perfect little Christmas dress on, she burst in the door on Christmas Eve and came running up to me, jumped in my arms and said, “Grammy, you’re here!” I sobbed, and thanked Jesus for the beautiful face that I could see, of the sweet little girl that I had been blessed with in my life. I am at total peace.

  2. I too made a very bad decision in my early twenties and my boyfriend, at the time, now my husband, chose an abortion over a child’s life. I have asked for forgiveness and new God had forgiving me but, I never really felt forgiving until this past Sunday, when we were at Church talking about sin and forgiveness. God spoke to me and I heard him – You are forgiving. It was the first time in over 30 years I truly felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Funny thing, my husband and I have never talked about that decision that we made, until this past Sunday. Thank you for sharing this today it just reminds us that there is no sin that cannot be forgiving.

  3. I went through the same thing four years ago he serve me my divorce paper and got married not to long after. Pray and let Gods will be done. I went through my dark days, now I’m telling my heart to beat again for God,and take step one toward him,and he will do the rest. Be bless in Jesus name..

  4. I went through the same thing four years ago he serve me my divorce paper and got married not to long after. Pray and let Gods will be done. I went through my dark days, now I’m telling my heart to beat again for God,and take step one toward him,and he will do the rest. Be bless in Jesus name..

  5. Thank you, Gwen!! You have a way of reaching inside and speaking truth to my soul. I am a lover of the Lord who struggles with the sin of alcohol over use. I want to be so much more for Him…but feel so less in Him due to this weakness. I want to be a bold witness for Him, yet live in slavery in my soul that I am not enough to make any kind of difference in this dark world. Could use some prayer, Girlfriend!! Love and blessings to you and your precious ministry!!

  6. THANK YOU! I have struggled at times with the same situation. Somone even told me that abortion was death to me. I was scared but once I truly surrenderd and received Christ I know it’s not true. I’m very pationate on this subject especially if someone brings it up to me. My past almost ruined me. I started drinking and not caring about anything because I was going to hell and it didn’t matter. It haunted me for a long time until I accepted Jesus and started following the word and became born again. I can’t wait for the bible study in March. Thank you for all you do!!!

  7. This was one of those moments for me when God chose to speak to my heart through one of my morning readings.
    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t even tell you how timely and significant this is for me today.
    I will continue to “press on” and “take hold of” as the Lord works in me to mature me into the woman he longs for me to be in Him.

  8. Dear Gwen ~ Thank You so much for this email.
    It’s 2:30am & here I am again unable to sleep, crying & wondering how to go forward.
    I am separated from my husband. I have not heard his voice in over a year. He does not answer any form of communication from me.
    It was I who left because the abuse (emotional, mental, financial, spiritual) had to stop. But I didn’t leave to hurt him or hoping for a divorce. I was hoping we both would commit to ourselves & God our hope to restore.
    I have prayed daily for him, me & restoration of our marriage.
    I have sought forgiveness from God in all I failed as a wife. I have asked forgiveness from my husband & I have forgiven him.
    He has minimally provided for me from afar but just received a type written note. There was no Dear Laurie or an ending with his name. It just said I will receive nothing else from him. I felt it was so disrespecting. Through our marriage I was invisible to him & writing a note like that just added to the brokenness of my heart.
    So now I fear every day I will be served with divorce papers.
    I love him & want so to honor my vows to him & God. But I can’t save it by myself.
    I am still waiting for God to answer.

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