“Don’t look down. Whatever you do, don’t look down!” We all can appreciate those times when perhaps looking down would not be in our best interest.
But what about looking back? “Don’t look back. Whatever you do, don’t look back!” What??
“So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.’ …Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” ~ Genesis 19:17, 24-26
Now, in most cases, looking back will not cause you to turn into a pillar of salt. When Lot’s wife looked back, she showed a reluctant heart that didn’t want to leave behind sin. Her willful disobedience + her reluctant heart = pillar of salt.
But wait. How often am I willfully disobedient and reluctant to let go of something from my past? Yet God has mercy upon me, over and over and over again. Hallelujah!
Wasn’t that a wonderful time, back when the kiddos were young and all still in the nest? Oh, I wish we still lived at that old house. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back? What if I had done that differently? If only…
“Don’t look back. Whatever you do, don’t look back!” What?? Why??
I don’t think it’s wrong to look back on our past and remember the good times– and the bad. Cherish those delightful memories! Learn from the painful ones. Let go and forgive, when needed. Thank God for your past, whatever it holds. History is a valuable and important part of our lives. But we don’t need to repeat it! Instead we should be obediently following God as He continues to write our history.
When we are reluctant to leave our past behind us, and embrace what God has for us in the now, then I think we have a problem. Like the horse who keeps trying to return to the barn instead of obediently walking the path in front of her, we miss out on the great adventure ahead of us! And like that horse, perhaps we need blinders on, also– to keep from focusing on the storm raging around us and instead be looking ahead, with our eyes on our Lord and Saviour.
This has been a particular struggle for me lately– looking back on something in the past with wistfulness and wishful thinking, or looking around me at the chaos and waves. God has been gently admonishing me: Don’t look back. And don’t worry about the storm. I have a magnificent plan for you and your future. I will take care of the loose ends from yesterday and restore what the locusts have devoured. I am fighting today’s battle on your behalf. You need only stand firm girded with your spiritual armor. Trust Me. Take My hand. Walk with Me. And don’t look back. Don’t look around. Look ahead. Look at the wondrous promises and amazing future I have for you. Look at ME.
What if God kept looking back, at our past? Oh, what a dreadful thought! Yet He has promised us otherwise.
“Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” ~ Isaiah 38:17
” ‘Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert… I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. ‘ ” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19, 25
” ‘I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.’ ” ~ Isaiah 44:22
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” ~ Psalm 103:10-12
So don’t look back. Whatever you do, don’t look back: with wistfulness and longing, with regret and guilt, with reluctance to leave it behind and look ahead. Enjoy your memories, thank God for your past– the good, the bad, and the ugly– and press on toward Jesus, like the Apostle Paul:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but 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.” ~ Philippians 3:12-14
Be present in the present, live each day to its fullest, and obediently follow God on the path He has for you. He is trustworthy, always.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11