As part of the Covid-19 chaos, my husband and I did a 31-day study on the book of Philippians about finding joy. Seemed ironic that the theme of the letter was joy, given that Paul was imprisoned at the time. Yet, his words carried more power because he was finding contentment in the midst of captivity.
The leaders of the study encouraged us to, at some point, read the entire book from beginning to end. It was a letter from Paul to the people of Philippi, so when read as a letter, it can add new flavor, perspective, and understanding. So, I did just that. I was humming along, enjoying the letter, when I was stopped by this passage:
“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 3:13–14 (NLT, emphasis mine)
I’ve read these verses countless times, but in that moment, the words knocked me off my feet.
It was as if God was saying to me, “Megan, it is time to forget your past, and press towards what lies ahead.”
Tears rolled down my face as I let His words sink into my heart. For several weeks, I have struggled big-time with being unemployed. I often found myself lamenting my past successes and reliving my professional glory days, wallowing in who I used to be. And for me, it was really hard to not live in the past as I was trying to find a new job. The past is what I know. It’s what I am comfortable with.
When Paul was talking about forgetting the past, he was setting aside all that he accomplished before his conversion on the Damascus road. His education, his high-ranking within the Jewish culture, even his wealth. Who he once was no longer carried weight, but his experiences still had a profound impact. God used all the skills Paul cultivated to expand His kingdom and presence, and He did it while leaving Paul’s past in the past.
As I read the passage in Philippians, God was asking me to do the same — to forget who I once was in terms of rank and accomplishment and to press towards what He has next for me. Leaving my past in the past doesn’t negate my experiences or the skills I’ve developed — not at all. But it does allow me to leave all the comparisons — the “I used to be” thoughts — and most definitely the mistakes in the past.
Letting go allows me to be open to different possibilities and not be pigeon-holed by what I think of my self or my abilities. Letting go frees me to evolve and embrace something new. It gives God the steering wheel and me the chance to enjoy the view along the journey. As Ken and I always say, “It’s an adventure!”
Even when I have a prompting from God, I experience doubt.
I think maybe I just made it up or translated a verse in a way that made me feel better. Recently, Ken and I were on a Zoom call with my grandparents. They had been praying for me and were encouraging me in regards to my future employment when my grandfather started quoting the exact same verses from Philippians over my life. It was as if God was saying, “Yes, Megan. You heard my words correctly. Now step out in confidence and forget the past and lean into what is coming next.”
In His goodness, God meets me where I am at as shown in His repetition of the same verse through my grand folks. It blows my mind, and it just shows to what lengths God will go to reach our hearts, to bring us comfort and peace.
I am clueless as to what my next chapter will be, but I rest assured that God knows.
You know, résumés innately are past-focused. It’s all about what you have done. It is the calling card we put out to others that says, “Look at me. Hire me.” I can’t change that, or any part of the hiring process for that matter. But what I can change is how I approach job-seeking. I will continue to search online, apply, network where possible, etc. But, I will no longer “expect” myself to fit in the box I have always fit in, nor I will put God in any kind of box. Instead, I will forget the past and lean into what God has in store for the future… whatever that may be. I imagine it’s like turning down a country road I’ve never traveled before. With each turn, my spirit fills with excitement at what I might discover.