If you’ve ever invested in stocks or mutual funds, you’ll probably have come across a disclaimer like this:
“Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.”
This phrase is meant to warn us and give us pause before we press the “Buy” button. We shouldn’t assume that an investment will continue to succeed in the future just because it’s done so in the past.
But there’s a secondary meaning that can be read into that disclaimer, too.
We shouldn’t discount or overlook an investment opportunity simply because it has performed poorly recently. It could well turn around and gain ground.
It’s this last meaning of the disclaimer that we see exemplified in several characters in the Bible. It applies to our own lives as well:
Past failures in our lives don’t mean that God can’t still use us.
They’re not a reliable indicator of our future results or success.
Our way of thinking often involves something called “recency bias”: the idea that the way things have been going recently are the way they’ll continue to go in the future. If we’ve failed once, we assume that we’ll continue to underperform and disappoint.
But when God is working in our lives, He changes the equation.
Think of Moses in the Old Testament.
What did his past performance include?
Losing his temper and murdering a man. Spending 40 years in the backside of the desert, doing nothing of much consequence but tending some sheep.
But what were his future results, once God tapped him on the shoulder?
Confronting the most powerful man in Egypt, the Pharaoh. Being God’s instrument to bring judgement on the Egyptians for enslaving the children of Israel. Leading the Israelites to freedom across the Red Sea. Relaying God’s laws to His people, in books of the Bible we still read today. Bringing the Israelites to the very threshold of the Promised Land.
I guess his past performance wasn’t a reliable indicator of his future success, was it?
And what about Peter in the New Testament? What did his past performance consist of?
Being a simple fisherman. Being impetuous and spouting off at the mouth. Denying he even knew Jesus, the man he’d followed closely for years—not once, but three times. Making himself scarce when Jesus was being crucified.
What did his future hold after this ignominious performance?
Being graciously restored by Jesus. Becoming the first leader of the early church. Being instrumental in the gospel being opened up to the Gentiles.
After hitting rock bottom, Peter’s “stock chart” went straight up. He threw off the shackles of his past failure, and produced results which have had a profound impact on Christians for centuries.
And what about you? Does your past harbour failures, poor performance, things you’d rather forget?
God can wipe away the limitations of your past defeats and mistakes, and set you on a new course. With God’s forgiveness and restoration, you can accomplish great things for Him and through Him.
Your past performance is just that: past. It has no bearing on your future results when God is in the mix.
Let God take the reins of your life and guide you onward. You’ll be amazed at how He can change a life that’s submitted to Him.
Our Heavenly Father can turn a minus into a plus.
After all, isn’t that what He did at the Cross?
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.