Your Past Does Not Define Your Future

January 4, 2024

A compilation

Audio length: 13:29
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One evening after dinner, I broke down … exhausted, alone and in tears. … I’d been let go from a church that had promised me a promotion and raise a few months earlier. Countless nights had been spent shuffling through divorce papers because I couldn’t afford a lawyer. Looking at my finances and the bills I would now be carrying as a single mom, I didn’t see a way out of this valley of complete darkness. …

Here I was in a valley, thinking that my brokenness discounted me. And yet there are stories all throughout the Bible showing broken people, including broken women, whom God rescues and welcomes.

There’s a hard but beautiful story in the Bible that shows a picture of Jesus’ desire to choose those of us who struggle to see our value. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery to the temple courts where Jesus was. Could you imagine being caught in the very act of some of your biggest mistakes, arrested on the spot, and dragged to a public setting to be killed?

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:7–11).

You see what just happened? He flipped the script.

Not only did Jesus create accountability for the public shaming, but He also chose to show love to a woman who, to her community, was blemished and worthy of death. Her brokenness didn’t discount her access to, and love from, the Savior of the universe.

When you decide to bring your hurts into the light, hope and healing can be yours. Through this act of choosing the woman in John 8, Jesus is showing us today that He chooses you and me as well. Jesus is choosing you right now. The question is: Will you be brave enough to fight for your greatest hope by fighting through your greatest hurt?

We all have things that have deeply hurt us, things we need to heal from. We need restoration and true freedom. Our childhood wounds can be transformed into adult scars that are healed and sealed.

You can absolutely look at all your past mistakes, your past pain, the parts of your story that you just want to forget, and declare that they don’t get to have the final say in your life. That’s exactly what Jesus did when He died for you—declaring that those things don’t get the final say, but God does. And, friend, He’s not done with you yet.

Dear God, You know what I’ve been through. Thank You for never giving up on me. Please bring me to a place of healing that allows me to share my story and the good news that hope is available to us all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.—Toni Collier1


Our future isn’t limited by our past. No matter what decisions we have made, and no matter what point we are at now, the future is still as bright as God’s promises. If you’re not where you want to be, there is time to change that. Where there is life, there is hope.

It’s human nature to look back and have regrets about some of the things we did, or to wish we’d done them differently. God understands that and sympathizes. But let’s not overlook the good that also came from those experiences—the wisdom, maturity, and other lessons learned, which have helped to shape our character and prepare us for better things to come.

When you look back on the past, remember also those “true, noble, just, pure, and lovely” things that also make up the story of your life. (See Philippians 4:8.) Thank God for the good decisions you made in the past, as well as those that He’s going to help you make in the future.—Maria Fontaine


“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14.)

When Paul said he was “forgetting those things which are behind,” he referred to not looking back at past relationships, memories, failures, temptations, or anything that might distract from a single-minded focus on “the upward call of God in Christ.” To inspire his audience, Paul drew on the image of an athlete running a race with uncompromising determination to reach the finish line and win the prize. …

To win the race, a runner must dismiss every distraction from his mind. He must not rehash every early misstep or dwell on the mistakes along his course. “Forgetting what is behind” is Paul’s way of saying, “Don’t look back! Stop dwelling on the past. Don’t let anything behind you interfere with your present progress or future efforts.” …

When it comes to forward motion, our bodies tend to move automatically toward the place where our eyes are directed. A runner who keeps turning back to see what is behind him will lose his race. …

Holding on to emotions like bitterness and unforgiveness can slow us down and even keep us locked in the past. Rehearsing conflicts and rehashing hurtful episodes will only open old wounds. … Guilt and despair over past sins may also keep us chained to the past. But God does not hold our past sins against us, and neither should we (1 John 1:7–9). …

The Christian life is lived with our eyes facing forward on Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate priority that makes our lives worth living.—GotQuestions.Org2


Don’t let mistakes of the past blur your vision for the future. Focus on the good to come. Faith gives us courage to face the present with confidence and the future with expectancy. Commit your life, your plans, your hopes, your dreams, and your fears to God through prayer every day. In return you will have peace in your life.—Mottos for Success


The world is a book and every step turns a new page.—Alphonse de Lamartine


Let us write upon each day’s page things that at the end of the year we will look upon with rejoicing rather than regret.—Mottos for Success


“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6–7


I can fit everything into My majestic plan for your good, including the things you wish were different. How you long to see that all-embracing pattern—though you wouldn’t understand it even if I showed you!

I urge you not to indulge in obsessing about what you could have done differently, for that is an exercise in unreality: The past cannot be different from what has actually occurred. I want to help you to make a new beginning instead, starting right where you are.

Now is the only place to begin anew: It’s the unique intersection of time and space you currently inhabit, and it’s the space-time location where I intend for you to live. Some things—many things—may be beyond you, but you are capable of living joyfully in the present. After all, you are communicating with Me, your Savior and Lord, this very moment. You can also handle the next moment as it comes—and the next.

What you find most difficult to accept is the way the future looks to you: basing your predictions on current circumstances. But the future is one of those secret things beyond your domain. Release it to Me, the rightful owner. Refuse to worry about the future, and you will find your resources for today quite sufficient. Remember that I am part of those resources and nothing is impossible with Me!—Jesus3

Published on Anchor January 2024. Read by John Laurence. Music by Michael Dooley.



3 Sarah Young, Jesus Lives (Thomas Nelson, 2009).

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