I've been a Christian for years. Recently, I was very close to God but now I seem to be caught up with so many problems from the past and God seems so far away. How can I get away from the past and move on with God?
From your question, I have assumed it is a past with a significant problem(s) or maybe sin(s). In order to answer your question, we will start with the Apostle Paul.
The Worst of All
Paul the apostle had a very difficult past. He had persecuted Christians because they believed in Jesus. He had sent men and women to prison and he put some to death. He was rejecting Jesus. Here are Paul’s own words,
I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today. And I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons , as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished. (NASB) Acts 22:3-5
How did Paul deal with his past? First, He considered himself a serious sinner.
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (NASB) 1 Timothy 1:15
I would have been in anguish over my past if I had been Paul. I would have been in pain and been mourning my sin. Some sorrow is good, but not prolonged sorrow.
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance . . . (NASB) 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
How did Paul respond to his past? The answer is found in Philippians,
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (NASB) Philippians 3:13-14
In this passage, Paul is primarily talking about “forgetting” his religious heritage and his accomplishments as a Christian. Some of it was good and some of it was bad. Paul’s point is that he wants to forget everything in order to press on in his service to Christ. He does not want anything to get in the way. So he has “forgotten” everything.
Forgetting The Past
I have found that my past problems and sins can weigh me down if I think about them. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is convicting me about some sin I have not confessed. Other times, it is Satan who wants to discourage me. I can know which one it is in a few days, after I confess my sins to God and have asked the Holy Spirit to take control of me (to fill me – Ephesians 5:18). I then thank Him for forgiving me and also for protecting me from Satan. How should we respond after we confess our sins and thank Him? We are to refuse to think about our past. Paul says, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead . . . ” It is called direction and hope. It is called purpose. We cannot move forward very easily when we are always looking backward over our shoulder.
Sometimes, the dark mood does not disappear so easily. At times I have found that I need to spend a lot of time in God’s Word to bring me out of my “dark moods.” I focus on the fact that God loves me and has forgiven me of all my sins. When I do, the Holy Spirit uses scripture to speak to me about areas in my life that God wants to change. Sometimes he wants to speak to me about faithfulness, thankfulness, or patience, for example. I have found it is always darkest before the dawn. God always seems to allow me to go through a difficult time before a wonderful blessing comes.
Are you discouraged and are you blue. Are clouds obscuring the sun from view? Keep trusting Jesus tho’ storms assail, you have His promise He will not fail. It is always darkest before the dawn, don’t be discouraged but carry on; He’ll not forsake you, the sun will break through, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
He knows your heartache, He undersatnds, just put your problem in His great hands; no trouble meets you but in His will, He’s not forgotten He loves you still. It is always darkest before the dawn, don’t be discouraged but carry on; He’ll not forsake you, the sun will break through, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
John W. Peterson, “It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn.”