You can't go forward when you're looking back

We can’t Go Forward when we’re Looking Back

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Have you ever tried to walk forward while looking back? If you did, you probably noticed right away that you couldn’t go very far. Why? Cause our eyes only looks one way and that’s forward never back.

As I was thinking about this post, my thoughts went to Lot’s wife. When she looked back at their house and turned into a pillar of salt, I wondered what was it about that house or that city that she didn’t want to leave? God told them to get out and not look back. Why would she take such a risk of disobeying God? He wanted them to go forward, but she disobeyed. Sodom and Gomorrah was a horribly sinful city and God wanted to save Lot’s family from its destruction. We don’t know why she didn’t want to leave and the Bible doesn’t say. Sometimes, we get too attached to temporal things. And, in the end, only Lot and his two daughters survived.

“You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back!”

I’ve heard that said a lot and it is so true. When God said that He forgives our sins as far as the east is from the west, I don’t believe He wants us to continue thinking, pondering, grieving year after year living in the past. I think it is a great idea to learn from the past but it’s better to take those lessons and turn them into something positive.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:8-12 (NIV)

When we stress over bad choices, we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. All we’re focused on, at that moment, are the mistakes. I know, because I had a HUGE habit of doing this to myself. I would dwell on what I did wrong, analyze what I could’ve or should’ve done, continued talking to everybody around me about it until they were sick of hearing me. And, still I couldn’t overcome or get past it, rather I chose to live in the past. I didn’t even think that there would be a forthcoming blessing.

By keeping the yesterdays close, I was, in fact, stalling my own progress and preventing God from performing miracles in my life. I don’t like making mistakes and I’m the hardest on myself. Since realizing what I was doing, I try really hard to not dwell on my decisions. I pray, listen to what I feel God is telling me to do and then I act. If I miss the mark, I know The Lord will help me get back on track because He knows my heart.

And, if I look back through disappointments, there’s something positive, something good that came out of it. Every lesson I learn helps me grow in grace.

And, because she looked back, Lot’s life would never be the same. She wasn’t there to see what would lie ahead for her family (read Genesis 19). What would possibly have happened if Lot’s wife didn’t look back? It would be more likely that her daughters wouldn’t have ended up getting their father drunk and becoming pregnant by him in order to keep their family line going. Really sad, sad act. But, I mention this because when we live in the past and don’t get past it, there’s consequences which has long arms that reaches far and it affects other people. Lot’s wife wasn’t there to guide her daughters and they all fell into sin.

If Lot’s wife had been there for her daughters, and I know I’m letting my imagination go here, who knows what blessings God would have given them. They might have found a new land to live in. Her daughters may have found husbands and started their own families. God could have had awesome plans for them, but she would never know. When we look back, we can’t go forward.

Her example in the Bible may not turn us into literally a pillar of salt, but the message is sure clear. What’s in the past needs to be left in the past and God wants us to keep looking and moving forward. We don’t know, of course what would have happened to them, but I think you get my point. Look what happened to Job. He lost everything, but he came through the trials and God blessed him and replaced it all back.

I’ve spent way too time looking back at my life: my choices, my past relationships, you name it. I’ve been to a lot of pity parties. I’ve grieved much, much longer than I was supposed to. And, I missed great opportunities because I wouldn’t release my past to God and let go. And He will not force His will on me. He will not beg me either. He will patiently wait on me to realize what a waste of time and energy it is to dwell in the past which can’t be changed.

It will be the enemy who will bring up your past to use it to steal your future blessings and your joy. You have to stop him by rebuking him in Jesus name and reminding yourself that God plans are to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

I think what’s important is, God is a present-day God and He wants us to continue moving forward improving, learning, growing and loving. And maybe your past, for you, might not include a bunch of mistakes. Perhaps you have wonderful memories of yesteryear, but today and tomorrow are different. God still wants us living in the here and now.

God never wants us to hold onto things if they’re not His best or His will for us, even if we like them. Lot’s wife might have loved her house. Maybe she decorated it so lovely with flowers and it smelled so good with special oils and fragrances. Maybe she didn’t mind all that was going on in her city. Maybe those things didn’t touch her personally and perhaps she was enjoying Lot’s wealth and didn’t want to leave that behind to start over. Whatever her reasons were, God gave them a command to leave to save their lives and she chose to go her own way.

When you and I spend too much time living in the past, we miss out on what God is doing in the present. We miss or delay blessings God has for us. When we repent of bad decisions, God forgives and does not look back at what we did. He doesn’t bring it up and He doesn’t use it against us.

We have to remember, I have to remember, that yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet. This is the moment right now that matters and what we do with it matters.

Remember Lot’s wife, she looked back on a hopeless situation and missed out on her future. If you have great past memories or had a great upbringing, that’s great. Cherish those moments. If you’ve made a bunch of mistakes and you can’t seem to move past them, make it up in your mind today that it will not hold you down. Your past will not govern your future.

Let’s not use up precious energy and time rehashing over our past. Let’s instead move into the great plans The Lord has for us.

We can’t go forward when we’re looking back.

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Kim McDougal

Kim is the founder and creator of Growing Up in Grace. By day, she's the Director of Interactive Communications for the Hispanic chamber located in Jax, FL. Kim also owns "Kim's Studio Art" where she creates and sells Wall Art Printables and "Kim's Handcrafted Cards" on eBay where she creates and sells handmade greeting cards.