(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 16 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)
"Never giving up means marching into your future with boldness and confidence, seeing each new day as an opportunity to move forward in all the best God has for you and taking each new challenge as a mountain to be climbed instead of a boulder that will crush you." - Joyce Meyer Never Give Up!
I want you to read that last part again...."taking each new challenge as a mountain to be climbed instead of a boulder that will crush you." How often have we as human beings done this? We see a challenge as something that can destroy us instead of something that will make us stronger. Usually, we do this because of past experiences. We automatically feel we don't deserve something good to come out of the "challenge" therefore, empowering the bad to come out instead.
In Chapter 16, Never Give Up On Your Future, Joyce Meyer shows us how we need to let go of the past and concentrate on our future. On page 214, Joyce says "The past has the potential to keep you from experiencing the joy, freedom, and blessings of the present and the future-if you let it." She then moves forward by giving us the tools we need for a brighter future. The following are the important points that Joyce encourages us to remember while trying to turn our backs on the past and face our future....
1. Don't Look Back
"Sometimes when we focus on our past, we can't even see our future. We become discouraged, hopeless, and depressed." - page 215 Joyce Meyer
2. New Every Morning
"Every day can be a new beginning if we allow it. God's mercy is greater than yesterday's mistakes." - page 216 Joyce Meyer
3. Forget the Former Things
"God is doing a new thing, but to experience it, you have to turn your focus away from what God did in the past, and onto what He is doing now. Failing to do this will result in a life full of regret." -page 219 Joyce Meyer
4. God Forgets!
"God's forgiveness is ongoing for the duration of our lives; it is for every day. When Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago, He not only forgave everything we had done in our pasts, but He also committed Himself to forgive every sin we would commit in the future." - page 220 Joyce Meyer
5. The Past is Paid For
"Do not allow yourself to believe you have made so many mistakes in the past that you have no hope for the future." page 222 Joyce Meyer
While reading this chapter, I had a flood of guilt come my way on how I keep looking at my past. Everyone's past is different. Some people have had a rough childhood. Others have had tough adolescent years. There are even some who have experienced a difficult past yesterday. But for me, when I say I keep looking at my past, I think of autism and how it has affected us over the past 4 years. My son is now 7. I was sure he'd be healed by 5. Satan knows what he's doing. He creeps inside my head and says "he'll never be healed now." Or "yesterday was a rough day. I bet today is just as bad. Just put the tv on for him and relax." Or my ultimate favorite "I must have have done something really wrong in my past for God to be doing this to my family." I have a huge pity-me-I-can't-believe-how-hard-this-is party and get in the funk. You know what funk I'm talking about....the kind it takes like weeks to get out of. The next thing I know I've buried myself in so many "negative" thoughts about things that happened yesterday, a year ago or even 4 years ago that I've totally forgotten all of the good things happening today. I'm missing out on my future and determining to make my future bad by holding on to the past. Instead, I need to focus on my future. My family's future. My son's future. It is my responsibility as Sean's mom to help make his future so incredibly bright that we can't even see what's in the past. The best way I can to do this is by following Joyce's advice above, stop looking at our past and concentrate on our future. We, as moms of children with autism, can do this by remembering the little steps they are taking now. Everything from their first words, first sentence, first time they ask a question, even the first time they "play" with a toy the way they should. These are the things we need to hold on to. Our God is an awesome God and has a wonderful future set aside for all of us. We just need to keep our eyes on the prize and not on how we get there.
One verse in the Bible says it all for me (Joyce also uses it in Chapter 16 as well).....
"For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome." Jeremiah 29:11
We have to trust in God. He knows us. Most importantly, He knows what is best for us. There will be times that we get knocked down, but we have to get up again and keep pressing forward. We expect this from our children. Now we need to be a shining example of it for them.
Thank you for showing us how to let go of the past. We release any hurt, anger and anxiety that we may be carrying from our past to You. We will now, with Your help, focus on our future so that Your Will will be done.
In Your Name we pray,
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins."