When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon it was a seminal moment. The world was watching. We didn’t have 24 hour news stations, but the news stations we had were tuned in. We’ve come a long way since we heard words coming from the man ON the moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Those of us, who are old enough to remember, remember where we were when we heard those words. We remember where we were when we heard the news that President Kennedy was killed, that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, that Bobby Kennedy was killed, that John Lennon was killed, that President Reagan was shot, that the Twin Towers fell, and when we heard the news of what happened at Columbine and Newtown and Parkland and …. Santa Fe and far too many other tragedies. We remember, but we must forget.
In his letter to the Philippians the apostle Paul wrote this.
“… one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The word for forgetting is a word that means more like “don’t be held back” than it means to “not remember.” We remember, but we must forget. We remember the past, we honor the past, and we memorialize the past…but we must not let the past hold us back from pressing on into the future. We can’t let our past failures hold us back from trying again. We can let our past successes tempt us to rest on what worked then but is not working now.
I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, “Those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. “ That’s why we study and remember the past. But we can’t be held back by past failures—Thomas Edison tried 10,000 times before he found a filament thin enough to succeed in making a light bulb. He was quoted as saying he discovered 10,000 ways NOT to invent a light bulb.
We can’t be held back by past successes—Neil Armstrong succeeded in being the first man to set foot on the moon. But he came back. He went on to other things. He remembered that step, but he forgot it also.
As we move farther into this season of Lent we will be remembering and forgetting. I have many things that I remember and many that I forget. I remember the places I’ve served. I’ve had success. I’ve failed. I’ve tried things. Some have succeeded. Some have not. I remember, but I also forget. I press on. I look forward to pressing on as I take many more … small steps.