No one ever told me that and no advice was given to me about the dangers of looking back. I use to think and believe that looking back was great. I could remember all the fun things I did as a kid and in my wild days. Those times were great and exciting, even sometimes dangerous and risky. But what the heck, it is worth it and I am not going to have any consequences. Right! There were many chapters in my life back then, chapters that possibly those of low moral character would envy. But that was then, this is now.
Those feelings and thoughts would be true to me today if I had not become a Christian and genuinely accepted Christ. But it’s like when you are reading a book about someone you go from chapter to chapter and as you read, the person and circumstances change as time goes by, hopefully in a positive direction, depending on the genre of the book.
As I was thinking about doing a study on not looking back (I received the idea from remembering the story about Lot’s wife looking back and what happened to her) the other day when I heard a song by Don Henley, “The Boys of Summer” and part of the lyrics were “[Verse 3] Out on the road today -I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac – A little voice inside my head said – “Don’t look back, you can never look back” – I thought I knew what love was, what did I know? – Those days are gone forever -I should just let them go but…Good advice from a secular world. I understand it as a song about lost love and the pain involved when looking back. I can even relate to the pain looking back can cause as stated in these lyrics but, then, there were too many good times (I thought) not to look back and enjoy. Boy was I wrong.
Later on in life when I decided to have a life really worth living, I sought God and wanted to learn what He had to offer. That decision changed my life but it started a struggle within me because I still wanted to look back and learn from my mistakes while at times in my weaker moments I looked back at the sinful things I did that I thought were fun and briefly remembered them fondly. Then the reality of my new life would take over and the Holy Spirit would put on my heart and mind the pain that my sin and my actions really caused. A reality check. Like Paul I would state “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15.
Forgetting about the lyrics and meaning of the “Boys of Summer” and moving on to what is really important I thought of Lot’s wife and the comments in Gen. 19:26, But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Originally I thought she turned into salt because she was not obedient to His word. But after studying the verses and meaning I have come to a different conclusion.
Yes, we are to always be obedient to what God request we do. However, God always has a purpose and meaning to what He asks and, knowing it or not, it is for our benefit. I could be wrong but from what I understand (via studying) we should learn from the actions of Lot’s wife is the sin of looking back is more than being disobedient.
Could it be that in a weak moment she remembered some of the good old (sinful) days that she once enjoyed but was now told to let them go? Is God telling us that if we look back to many times we may eventually revert to our old sinful ways?
In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul states “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.” I don’t think he is telling us to completely forget the past but not to dwell on it but put our focus on Christ and His righteousness. Looking back can get us into trouble!
Other scriptures that warn us about looking back are;
Luke 17:26-32, let him not turn back
Genesis 19:17 “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”
What I have learned is that if I can avoid the sins, especially the ones that seem fun or exciting, then in the future I won’t have the memory to look back on and have remorse. I have reminded our Apache students that the negative and sinful memories they make now will resurface in the future no matter how much they try to forget them. Even though God has forgiven us, as Christ followers, and remembers our sins no more we can’t erase memories at will and we will have regret. And I am speaking from personal experience as I am forgiven but I still feel remorse because of some of my actions in the past and how they negatively affected others, maybe even to this day.
My goal in the fight against looking back negatively is to remember God tells me I am forgiven, He does not look back at my past, that if I am going to look back use those sinful circumstances in my past to help me remember the pain they caused and to strive not to make those mistakes again, and share my experiences with others so that maybe they will learn from my mistakes and avoid doing the same.
Often I ““I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15.” That verse fits me to a T. With that said, if anyone has any tips for me or scriptures that I have missed that will help me in this battle please let me know.