Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking Back, but Moving Forward

A friend and I were recently talking about life changes and the past. She sometimes struggles with how often she should revisit the past. Her thought was that it's good to revisit the past because so much can be learned from it. But on the flip-side of that coin it's important not to dwell in the past. So what's the healthy balance?

We've probably all known someone who tended to live in the past. Sometimes it's evident by their appearance or the things they do or say. Many people do this because it's a place where they were most happy and/or comfortable. Some of that behavior may be harmless. Then there are those who are reliving the past over and over again because they are still working through unhappy memories, bitterness, or issues. They haven't come to terms with whatever happened and so their life is "on hold." Our Enemy loves for us to get stuck in the past, dredging up old painful memories. His purpose is to keep us from fulfilling God's plan for our lives. 

As my friend shared this struggle a word picture came to my mind. I was visualizing how a driver must regularly look in the rear view mirror to see what's behind her. Glances in that direction are vitally important to a driver for her safety and well-being. However, the driver must keep her main focus on the road before her. My friend helped expand this word picture by adding a great point. A new driver needs practice learning how to glance back at the proper intervals and not become distracted. Only when a driver matures does she learn these techniques.

What does the Word tell us about the past?

The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger. ~ Job 17:9

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. ~ Isaiah 43:18-19

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. ... I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. ~ Philippians 3:7-9, 12-14

We should keep an eternal perspective on our past, present, and future, staying focused on God and His path for us. Remember what God has done and share these things with others, but continue moving forward, pressing on to the end of the race. If you're not looking where you're going, you may miss out on something really great!

What keeps you stuck in the past?

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