I love the beauty and fragrance of cut flowers. I try to squeeze every last morsel of life out of them, reluctant to throw them out until the sweet fragrance turns into a pungent stench.

What about you? Do you tend to hold on to things long after they have served their purpose? You’re not alone. It is human nature to resist change

There’s a passage of Scripture that I love:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ (Isa. 43:18-19).

This passage contains not only a promise but a warning: “Do you not perceive it?” If we remain stuck in the past, we will never recognise – much less embrace – the new things that God wants to do in our lives.

Recently, I went for a profession facial, a birthday gift from my sisters. The beautician explained in detail the chemical components of each product and how they worked on my skin. One of those products was an exfoliating agent. “Exfoliation removes the outer surface of dead skin cells,” she said. ‘If this isn’t done on a regular basis, the dead skin cells clog up the pores, hindering circulation and preventing new skin cells from forming.”

Later, I realised there were fascinating parallels between dead skin cells and stagnant issues of the heart. Live skin cells perform an important function, but once they have served their purpose and die, they become clogging agents that prevent new growth.

The cells that once pulsed with life become agents of death.

Similarly, our hearts can be clogged with the dead foliage of things that were once vibrant and integral to God’s purposes for us. But after serving their purpose, they become rotting compost that clogs our hearts and prevents new growth.

I made up my mind that I would give myself a regular “heart exfoliation”. Periodically, I pray and ask God to reveal stagnant areas of my heart and life that I need to discard. I regularly ask myself: Am I living in the past? Am I holding onto negative memories? Am I clinging to something that has served its’ purpose? Is it time to move on?

The apostle Paul wrote, “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13).

Notice the energy implied in the words straining and press on. Focused effort is needed to turn away from the past and press forward to the new things God has for us.

Forgetting what is behind means letting go – once and for all – painful memories, hurt, bitterness, and anger. It means letting go of regrets, guilt, and self-reproach.

It also means letting go of past successes. Don’t build an altar to your accomplishments. Admit when something that once blossomed with life has become stale. It may be a job, a ministry, or another vocation. Has it stopped bearing fruit? Is it time to let go?

Make room for your future by letting go of your past. Ask God to release the fire of His Holy Spirit to sweep through your life and burn all the rotting weeds that clutter your heart. Then get ready to be launched into a new season of growth and blessing.