Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forgetting the Past

The Bible constantly warns us about the seductiveness of looking backward.  Looking backward is the longing for things as they used to be.  Interestingly we tend to have a generally optimistic and nostalgic when looking at the past (unless something traumatic has happened to us).  We also generally tend to have a pessimistic and fearful view when looking at the future (I deal with this second issue in the next post).  Both looking backward (with longing) and looking forward (with anxiety) are barriers to unreservedly giving yourself to God.

I think of Lot's wife.  When God was judging her home town she ignored the warning to "not look back" and became a pillar of salt

Then there was the people of Israel longing to return to Egypt.  Their looking backward led them to build and worship an idol, to reject God's provision, and the attitude of looking backward kept them from entering the promised land.

Solomon's heart was turned by looking back to Egypt for horses, then  foreign wives and eventual straying from God.

Jesus warned us about looking backward.

Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house." But Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:61-62 (HCSB)

The writer of Hebrews warns against returning to or resting in the early days of our faith.

Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this if God permits.
Hebrews 6:1-3 (HCSB)

I am beginning to see that God does not want us to look backward in this life.  Especially when such longing gets in the way of following Him.  Paul explains it this way:

Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14 (HCSB)

There is only one thing that God has called us to be mindful of that is not in the present moment.  It is pursuing His kingdom for our lives that is to be our focus our purpose.  All other things are unmindful of God!   

Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (HCSB)

Notice that God makes the way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  When we we long for the old ways, the old refreshing, old tradition we reject the provision of God.  God has made all things new.  We are to walk in the newness of life.  When we look back with those longing eyes it is a good sign that we do not trust in Him.

I will choose to press forward.  Will you join me?