Monday, October 5, 2009

Looking Back

I was reading the story of Lot and his wife this morning and it really got me thinking about how much I have in common with this woman. In the story, Lot is warned to take his family and run before God destroys the city they are living in because it is so evil. They are told to run and not look back. As they are leaving, Lot's wife cannot stop herself from taking one last look at their home and she turns into a pillar of salt.

I have heard that story so many times and it is always with a sense of disdain for Lot's wife. How could she disobey God like that? How could she be so weak and stupid? This morning as I read it I felt a sense of camaraderie with this poor woman with no name. She had been told to leave everything she knew. Everything that was familiar to her. The way I read it there were still people that she loved and cared for living there. All she did was take one last look.

I don't know about you but I do that every single day. I am always looking back. Sometimes with regret. Sometimes with longing. Sometimes with relief. I'm living today but I am looking back at yesterday. There are times when God clearly calls me to leave a relationship, a habit, a thought pattern, a memory behind. He tells me to let it go and not to look back. But I do.

I am so glad He hasn't turned me into a pillar of salt yet. But, wait, maybe He has. Because, you see, if I am looking back I am not moving forward and I am stuck. I might as well be a statue made of salt because I am stagnant, useless, going nowhere.

I certainly don't want the reputation of Lot's wife. I don't want to be known as the woman who was stuck looking back. I have been working so hard to move forward in my life. I have made decisions to move myself and my family in a positive direction and yet I still stop and look back occasionally and I get stuck all over again.

There has to be a balance. There are times when we look back and reflect and remember. I believe that can be healthy. The problem is when we let the past define who we are today. Whether it be a memory of a happy time that makes us want to go back and recapture that feeling or thoughts of negative experiences that fill us with sadness or even bitterness, we have to let go of the past and move forward. It isn't possible to go back even when we want to so badly.

I have always claimed Jeremiah 29:11 as my life verse, " 'For I know the plans I have for you', says the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " If I truly believe those words then I cannot live in the past. I have to stop looking back and start looking forward. I have to let go of the hurts, disappointments, broken relationships, bad habits, negative thinking, and even the good times; and I have to place my hope in that future that God has promised me.

I know I have come a long way in the past few years. I find myself looking back less and less. When I do it is often with a smile and a grateful heart. I have recently been doing some real searching and praying to find exactly how to move forward and I believe I have been hearing God's voice speaking to me through His word and through other people. I am in the process of making some decisions that will help me move forward and I am truly excited about the future He has planned for me.

I have to say, looking forward sure beats being a pillar of salt!

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