In the Bible story of Lot and his family fleeing Sodom, they were told to leave and not look back. Lot’s wife just couldn’t resist. She had to take one last look at the place she had come to call home, however wicked it might have been. She disobeyed God.
Lot’s wife looked back. Immediately she turned into a pillar of salt. She was totally immobilized in full view of anyone who would look upon her. It is easy to read this story, like we are watching an interesting movie. The story is about her, not us. Right? Or is it? Let’s take another look.
Have you ever been freed of a bad situation, bad life style, bad addiction? And yet, you just had to look back. At your worse moments, you took precious time from the joy of today to revisit the past. And suddenly you felt yourself stuck there. The feelings surrounded you.
Perhaps you felt anger for the wasted time you spent in that place of your past. Perhaps you felt regret about the choices you made there. You may have even felt rage for those you felt imprisoned or stole from you there in that past time. Even though healing from your battle wounds had already begun, you began picking at the scabs and you started to bleed all over again.
Breaking Back Into Prison
There were others in the Bible, who had problems with looking back. God’s people were rescued from slavery in Egypt. While they made their way through the desert, God provided for them again and again in miraculous ways. And yet, when things were not going according to their plans and they did not know every detail of God’s Plan, they voted to go back to Egypt.
Why would they want to return to slavery? Besides being immobilized by our past, even more dangerous is the temptation to go back there to stay. Satan is very quick to remind us of how nice it is to have a predictable life instead of a life of not knowing beyond the next step. Satan is very quick to paint the past in a more favorable light. “It wasn’t all that bad,” he says. If he gets your attention, he takes it up a notch to “It was really great back in the good old days.”
Satan’s techniques never change. He gets your attention. He tempts you to just think about it. He then leads you off course, one tiny step at a time. He convinces you he can give you a better deal than what God has given you. And when you go so far back into the horrors of the past that you know you are there again, satan accuses you of being an idiot. And oh yes, one more final blow. He convinces you that you have no choice but to stay in “Sodom” because you have fallen so far, God will never take you back.
So what do we do with the past? Does this mean we can never go there again? Was living in what is now our past just a waste of time? No! Quite the contrary! God has given us the wonderful gift of memory to allow us to revisit the good times of our past.
Visit the Past with Joy and Thanksgiving!
Like taking treasured sea shells home from the beach, God allows us to take the best of our memories and savor them on another day. But He wants us to put them in perspective and realize those times have passed. We can visit, but we can’t stay. Realizing God’s Gifts from our past should only serve to whet our appetite for the new Gifts He will bring today.
What about the bad times from the past? The memory of those times is also a Gift from God. He does not want us to relive those times, but He does want us to remember we don’t live there anymore because He has delivered us! And He did not send us out empty handed. We have left those times with lessons for the future. We now know better! God wants us to remember what satan would have us forget.
Life is a series of lessons. As we learned to walk, we fell down many times before we got the hang of it. So it is with our Christian walk. We fall down a lot before we walk and run. And when we walk and run, we don’t dwell on how many times we fell down before we got it right.
I take comfort in realizing the heroes of the Bible made plenty of mistakes, even after they decided to follow Jesus. But they learned from their mistakes. Even after Paul had come so far in his Christian walk, he freely admitted the struggle. But he also knew how important it was to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.”
Not that I have already obtained all this,
or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do;
forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press onward toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Jesus was very serious about not turning back from the commitment to follow Him. He said plainly,
No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.
Why did it take God’s People so long to get to the Promised Land (and most never made it)? Because they were going in circles! When you start on a path with God, but then you turn around and try to go back to where you have been, and then you get it right and start out with Him again, but then you try to go back again, etc.,you will find that you are going in circles. Pretty soon you will be so dizzy you will be as immobilized as Lot’s wife!
Recipe For Dealing With The Past
Thank God for His Gift of Memory
that allows you to remember
the best of the past.
Whatever is [was] true, whatever is [was] noble,
whatever is [was] right, whatever is [was] pure,
whatever is [was] lovely, whatever is [was] admirable —
if anything is [was] excellent or praiseworthy
— think about such things.
Thank God for His Provision for you
in both the good and bad times of the past.
Bask in the Joy of knowing He will continue to provide!
Because of the Lord’s Great Love, we are not consumed,
for His Compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your Faithfulness!
Thank God for delivering you from every bad thing
that ever happened to you in your past.
When satan tries to lure you into reliving those things,
tell him to buzz off!
Remind him with great praise to God (he hates that!)
you don’t live there anymore!
For You have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God in the Light of Life!
Thank God for the lessons you learned in your past.
Take those lessons with you
and march forward into the future with confidence.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the Prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Know you are not the one who has some magic map to the future.
God has the Plan.
You have His Assurance it’s a Good Plan
and He knows the Way.
“For I know the Plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future!”
Know you can depend upon Him to stick with you all the way.
He’s not going to lead you off somewhere and then abandon you.
The Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Know He will reveal the Path you are to take one step at a time.
He gives us just enough Light for our feet to follow HIm.
We can trust Him to be the Light
that will guide us on our whole journey ahead,
but we get there one committed step at a time.
Your Word is a Lamp for my feet,
a Light on my path.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a Voice behind you, saying,
“This is the Way; walk in it.”
Recognize the wonder of this precious, present moment.
Rejoice in it!
This is the day the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it!
Know God is always doing new things.
Watch for them to be revealed!
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland!‘