“For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:9,10).

LIKE PAUL, WE NEED TO FOCUS PRIMARILY ON OUR IMPROVEMENT RATHER THAN ON OUR DISAPPOINTMENTS. What has happened in the past is important, of course, but it is not nearly as important as what happens next. We may have taken many wrong steps, but none of these matter as much as the next step that we take.

When we’ve dug ourselves into a hole, it does not make good sense to keep digging the hole deeper. Yet that is what we often do. Disappointed and discouraged, we let ourselves be held captive by the thought that we can’t change the past, and we continue to make the same mistakes (and maybe even worse ones). But it should help us to remember that the next step is our most important. Depending on what we do next, we will either help our situation or make it worse; we will either cut our losses or continue to increase them. And not only that, we’ll make it either easier or harder to take the right steps later on. We’re building today a momentum that’ll either help us or hinder us tomorrow.

Despair is a vicious enemy, and we need to take the initiative against it. We can’t afford to sit back and simply wish we hadn’t marred our past as we have. If our future is to be anything we can feel good about, we must get up and get busy. There is important work yet to be done, and the courage to take the next step is the key to progress. There comes a time when we have to have enough “true grit” to take the battle to the enemy, indignant about what he’s already done in our lives and determined that the damage is going to stop. Here and now, we’re making a clean break!

If we intend to seek God, it’s necessary that we not only think but also act in His direction. Serving God faithfully means going ahead and doing the good that’s possible in the present moment. The saved will be those who have pressed ahead — in faith, in hope, and in love. And doesn’t victory finally come down to this simple thing: being dogged enough not to let ourselves be defeated by what we’ve done in the past? Even if, like the apostles, we’ve slept while we should have been on duty, our Lord would say to us what He said to them: “Rise, let us be going” (Mark 14:42).

“Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step” (Oswald Chambers).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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