The people you hurt. The friends you pushed away. The choices you wish you never made. The opportunities you never took. The words you spoke – and the ones you should have said, but didn’t.
Most of us, at points, would say “I want to go back. I want my chance again. I want to do it right.”
But going back over the past doesn’t work. At least, not when we do it. I tell myself, I could make everything better. But if that was true, I’d have got it right the first time around. The past is – past. I can’t change one second.
But perhaps my helplessness is cause for hope instead of despair.
There is a way of revisiting the past that gives us a future. And Christ has done it for us. Where Adam failed in the Garden of Eden, Christ goes back over the ground and succeeds in the Garden of Gethsemane. Where Israel fail in the wilderness over 40 years, Christ succeeds in the wilderness over 40 days. All of His life was a going-back-over and doing-it-right.
None of us can re-do our past mistakes, but Jesus has already gone back over our deepest failures and re-worked them into something amazing. In Adam we went to the tree to serve ourselves and it brought death and damnation. Jesus went to His tree – the cross – to serve the world, and it brought life and blessing. Now He has risen again, still bearing the wounds of the old life. But He has transformed them. In His hands, the old failures are redeemed. And in His hands, our lives are transformed too.
I don’t know what that will look like – for you, or for me. But going back over the past won’t move us forwards. Christ has re-trod that path and He has gotten in right. In Him, we have the courage to step forward, without shame.
One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)