Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Consequences of Looking Back

     Over the years, I have met so many people that cannot let go of the past.   I have a dear family member who has this malady.  She complains about the way she was raised and all the things which she missed.  Her mantra always contains "If only".  "If only" she had been treated differently growing up her life would be so much happier.  "If only" so and so had treated her better she could forgive them....etc.  With a focus only on past difficulties and disappointments, it is hard to be optimistic and move ahead.
     Genesis 19:15-26 tells the story of Lot and his family.  Read this entire passage to get the complete picture.  In the story, two angels had been sent by God to retrieve Lot and his entire family out of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for God was about to bring judgment on these places.  Lot was a man of great wealth and had many comforts even though the city was a depraved place to live.
     Lot did not want to depart so he lingered for a moment looking over the city he was leaving.  However, the angels took his hand, and pulled all the family members out of the doomed city telling them not to look back.  In spite of this warning, we know what happened.  Verse 26 tells us that Lot's wife looked back and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt.
     Certainly, it was not easy for Lot and his family to leave wealth, comfort and a familiar way of life behind them.  Yet God was sparing their lives and this certainly was far more important.  Sadly, Lot's wife could not let go of the past even though the cities were wicked.  As a result, she paid with her life.
A famous Lake Placid Caladium
     Throughout scripture, we are told to let go of the past.  Isaiah 43:18 reads:  "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past."  Jesus told us to put the past behind us in Luke 9:62:  "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."  In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul reminds us:  "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which re ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  Over and over again, God admonishes us that if we want to get ahead in our walk with Christ, we need to put the past behind us.  Now, that does not mean we should forget the good lessons we have learned along the way.  However, it does mean that we are to keep our eyes focused on the goal of becoming more like our Savior.
     When we dwell on past hurts, defeats, failed businesses, unsuccessful plans or other broken dreams, we are a good deal like Lot's wife.  We are immobilized and kept from being what God wants us to be.  We cannot change the past.  We can only move ahead in the future with the Hand of God upon us and His presence going with us.  Like Paul, we need to press ahead.
     Is there anything holding you back today?  Then, take a moment in prayer and release the past casting your burdens upon Him who holds our times in His hands.  Freeing ourselves from the past will allow us to run the race with our eyes properly focused on the goal ahead.  We will run better and faster by looking to Christ than by looking back to see what was behind.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts as always.  Please feel free to share your encouraging comments here.


Gospel One To One said...

This was a good one.

In ministering the Gospel I come across this a lot.

Many of us do it and there are also those that get stuck there.

Great blog.

Be Blessed


Christina said...

You have no idea how providential your devotional is for me today. I admittedly have had a rough run of it the last few days in this very area and have struggled to keep His Sovereignty in view BUT God is faithful. I love what you said about Lot's wife not letting go of the past. Lord knows, I don't want to be ruled by the past; i want to be ruled by grace. I also think you closed the right way -- by inviting us to pray. It's one thing to recognize the problem but we so need the power of the Holy Spirit to help us -- and that only by prayer. Thanks for this post my dear sister!

Barbara Thayer said...

Yes, Moray...many do get caught up in the past and cannot leave it behind. We just have to keep the goal of God's high calling before us as we walk each day. Thank you for stopping by dear brother.

Barbara Thayer said...

I am so encouraged by your response Christina. Indeed, we must pray each day that we don't get stuck in the past which we cannot change. God leads us forward....He is "I Am" not "I Was" or "I Will be". We have to remember that each day as we walk in His Spirit. Thank you for your words of insight. Blessings to you sister!