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October 26th, 2017

During a recent conversation, I was reminded of a painful mistake I’d made years ago. The thought of it saddened me and I felt regret again. I wished I could go back and change things. But since I can’t, the healthy thing would be to put it to rest, as the saying goes, “Once and for all.” That adage means to put finality to something, to end it, to put it away for all time, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Maybe you are like me, and you've used the TV news approach with mistakes. In the newsroom I worked in, "once and for all" never applied. If we had dramatic video of someone making a huge mistake we ignored “once and for all.” We believed once was never enough…in most cases a dozen times was barely enough.

“We can do the same thing to ourselves if we won’t stop the replays of our own disasters. Looking back on life and second-guessing yourself over and over is wasteful and painful. We feel bad about what we missed so we go back to it. And back to it. We live our mistakes over and over. It’s not like we made the mistake one time. Every time we go over it, we’ve made it again. We experience it again, feel the shame again.” (From Once and For All, by Regi Campbell)

While covering sports for decades I often witnessed the reason one athlete would succeed where another wouldn’t. It was that athlete’s ability to erase recent failures from memory. Learning to dismiss past failure and believe a better outcome is just ahead is a key characteristic of being victorious, not just in athletics, but in our walk with God. The Bible is very clear about not being weighed down by the past.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43: 18-19)

Paul emphasized that approach in his life too.

“…but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me.” (Philippians 3:13)

Now this doesn’t mean if we still have a responsibility to ask for forgiveness or provide healing that we shouldn’t do what we feel God is asking us to do to make things right. But if that’s been done and we’ve asked our living God for forgiveness for past sins, then we need to believe His word and stop dwelling where God doesn’t want us to dwell.

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." (Psalms 103:12)

In other words, we need to accept our loving Heavenly Father’s cleansing and follow His example. We need to stop revisiting our past sins, once and for all.