My first car was a bright red 1994 Mustang.

It was my pride and joy as a 16 year old, and I kept that car spit-shined inside and out.

I was driving back from a dual-enrollment class at a local college, and I began looking through my CD case that was lying on the passenger seat, in order to pick out the next disc I would jam out to on my way home.

While looking to the right seat, I inadvertently began to drift the car toward the right shoulder. When I finally looked up, I was shocked and terrified to see a bright orange road construction barrel that looked to be 10 feet off the nose of my hood.

I yanked the wheel to the left, and heard a loud bang as I zoomed past the barrel. Trying to figure out how much damage I had done to the side of my car, I looked over to peer out of the right door-mounted mirror and was perplexed when I saw no mirror.

When I looked into my windshield-mounted rearview mirror, I found my right-door mirror – it was bouncing down the highway about 100 feet behind my car.

This all preceded a great moment of praise when I got out to realize that the only damage done was the loss of that mirror, which I replaced for probably $20 at the local junkyard.

I learned a valuable lesson that day as I continued my drive home and God spoke to my spirit in a few debriefing moments: You will go toward wherever your gaze is fixed.

You’ve probably felt that, whether in a car or on a bicycle, if you look to one side, chances are that your direction of travel will begin to drift in that direction.

In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Philippi and encouraging them to strive toward maturity in their relationship with God. He writes these words in verses 13-14: “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 of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul essentially gave the church his mindset: He forgets the past, and focuses solely and intently on what it is that God has called him to be.

The past can be incredibly beneficial, and it can also be a hindrance. It can and does teach us so that we can avoid making the same mistakes twice. However, dwelling on past success can cause us to stay mentally in our “glory days,” and dwelling on past failure can be used by Satan to be pessimistic about what God might do in our future.

Learn from your past, but don’t live in it. Trust God as you fix your gaze on Someone whose shadow never shifts because He never changes.

Brett Myers is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island. FBCHHI.org