"Forgetting those things which are behind"

One of the most tenacious of the mortal thoughts that cling to mankind and cause much suffering and heart-searching, is the belief in the past, either for good or for evil. This belief is strongly entrenched in human consciousness. From childhood we are trained to look to the past for wisdom and guidance, and if it has been a so-called good one, we are taught to sigh for its repetition, and thus the past plays a large part in determining the attitude of most people toward life, creating bias of thought and tending to confuse and obstruct one's outlook on the present. More than this, an undue regard for the past leads one to forget the present, which is his only real concern.

With many people faithfulness to the past is looked upon as a virtue of high order, and numberless lives are thus narrowed and embittered by this erroneous concept. Much of the world's history would have remained unwritten but for this strong belief in and reverence for the long ago. We have only to look into our own consciousness to become aware of how much we allow it to affect us in our daily experiences. The question therefore arises, How can I possibly get rid of this belief, how can I free myself from that which seems to have become part of myself? If we turn to the Scriptures as spiritually interpreted in Christian Science, we find our answer. On page 224 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy says, "As the crude footprints of the past disappear from the dissolving paths of the present, we shall better understand the Science which governs these changes, and shall plant our feet on firmer ground."

In Acts we read of the wonderful conversion of Saul to Christianity and of his splendid missionary work. Nevertheless, in his zealous persecution of the Christians before his conversion, and especially in his participation in the martyrdom of Stephen, he had burdened himself with memories ineradicable from the human point of view. In addition to this he had to bear the not unreasonable suspicion and doubt with which the disciples seem at first to have regarded him. In spite of these seemingly overwhelming difficulties, however, the light which shone on him on the road to Damascus brought him courage and strength and the keenness of perception which enabled him to pierce this mass of sorrow and doubt, as is indicated in his words to the Philippians: "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those thing which are before, I press toward the mark." In these words his method of getting away from the haunting belief of the past is disclosed. We know that his forgetting was no light-minded disregard of difficulties, but a scientific laying aside of that which he knew to be of no avail, in order that his whole attention might be devoted to the great work in which he was engaged.

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"Instant in prayer"
December 4, 1915

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