Friday, May 4, 2012

Looking Back vs Moving Forward

But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26 NAS)

Don't Look BackIn the book, Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson,  a fable was told of how four characters—two mice and two miniature humans—react to the discovery of stolen cheese.  The humans became angry and rant at the unfairness of the situation, but eventually went home hungry. The mice on the other hand accepted the fact, and moved on to search for new cheese. The underlying principles to learn from this story are acceptance and adaptability when dealing with changes in work and life. In a sense, it is about not looking back to what was already lost, and to move forward to what lies ahead.

Like the fable by Dr. Johnson, the Bible also recorded for us an event in the Old Testament that teaches about not looking back. When Sodom and Gomorrah were about to be destroyed, the angels told Lot to take his wife and two daughters, and leave Sodom so they may not be swept away in the punishment of the cities. When Lot hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hand of his wife and of his two daughters, and brought them outside the city. One of the two angels then said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley” (Genesis 19:15-17).

When Lot finally reached Zoar, the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire out of heaven, and overthrew the cities. Lot's wife, however, from behind Lot, looked back and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:23-26).

Many of us know the reason behind Lot's wife becoming a pillar of salt. Just as Lot hesitated when told to leave the city, his wife was also reluctant to leave, having lived a life of luxury in Sodom for a long time with all her possessions left behind. Her heart was of regret and longing, unwilling to part with her earthly gains, wishing to stay behind to keep what she once had. Lot, unlike his wife, although hesitant, accepted his lost and obeyed the LORD’s command to look ahead.

Are we like Lot's wife at times? Do we hold to the past with yearning as if all hope is lost for the future? Can we put our trust in God completely on what lies in the days and years to come?

The Bible said in reference to our former manner of life, we should lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit (Ephesians 4:22). Since therefore we have laid aside the old self with its evil practices, we ought to put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created us (Colossians 3:9-10).

No doubt, not all things that lie behind us are evil practices, lusts, deceit or unchristian like. Nonetheless, our past should not burden, afflict, plague, distress, bother or hinder us from moving forward. The past should be lessons learned and not something that holds us back. Unless we are willing to let go of our past painful experiences, misgivings and wrongdoings, our lives can take a toll and destroy what lies ahead.

Jesus said, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Forgetting what lies behind, therefore, let us reach forward to what lies ahead and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). Let us put our complete trust in God, for He knows the plan He has for us; plans for welfare and not for calamity to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Dear Lord thank You for helping us not look back to our past in sadness, pain or regret. Teach us Lord to accept the things we cannot change, and to move on to do that which You have made Your plans for us. Guide us Lord in the days and years ahead as we face new challenges and cope with changes in life and work. Strengthen and renew us Lord as we put aside our old ways, along with our past misgivings and wrongdoings, that we may not unwittingly destroy our future. In You O Lord we put our complete trust, for You alone know what lies ahead.

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