Donít Look Back

Study No. 170

  Satchel Paige was a well-known pitcher in the Negro Baseball League for  many years. He later finished his career in the integrated American  League at an advanced age for baseball players. No one really knew how old he was, but the guess was that he was in his mid-to-upper-fifties. He was noted for saying, "Donít look back, something may be gaining on you."

The Bible also speaks about not looking back. Luke 9:62 states: " . . . No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Of course, this has a spiritual application in our lives. If we look back longingly to our former lifestyle, and desire things that the old sinful man enjoyed, it has caused us to sin. If this desire continues, we are in danger of being taken back to the old life and its ways.

A farmer also knows that you canít plow a straight row if you are looking backwards. Instead, he must look forward and keep his eyes focused on the end of the row. Looking back can hinder your forward progress. Looking back can be very depressing. Looking back can cause us to "trip and fall on our face." This can have a literal, as well as spiritual, application.

We can also look back into our past and pick up forgiven sins. I John 1:7-9 lends some "light" on this subject. God really does take our sins away. Upon confession of our sins, He promises forgiveness and cleansing for all sins. We find assurance that "as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us," (Psalm 103:8-12). Perhaps you may have accepted that this was true for others, but wondered or had difficulty accepting this for yourself. God has put away our sins, even our most serious ones.

We need not look back at failures of the past. This has a tendency to bring depression into your life. Everyone has experienced some failure(s) in their past. Only those who never attempt anything are free from failure. However, in reality, this is not the truth of the matter, either, because they have failed to try.

If we fall, God will lift us up again. We are told in Psalm 37:23 that "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way." The next verse adds, "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand." Donít believe Satan's lie that failing makes you a failure. This is only true if you quit trying.

Perhaps you have heard people conversing about "the good old days." Somehow, reminiscing about the past causes us to see things from the past in a better light than they really were. Ecclesiastes 7:10 warns us to, "Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this."

We can find examples of this in the Scriptures, and perhaps we also have experienced similar circumstances in our own lives. When the going got tough, Israel looked back longingly to Egypt (Numbers 11:18-20). Perhaps when the going gets tough, the tough should get going.

Perhaps you have heard the old adages: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." "Distance causes enchantment." The truth is that reminiscing produces incomplete memories. Nostalgia is never quite honest. Someone once said, "The present is never as good as it used to be."

It is wise to refrain from thinking back about old conflicts. This can make us bitter or angry all over again. Rehashing old conflicts returns the old hurts and opens old wounds. Hopefully, forgiveness surrounding these old matters has already taken place, but they can become dangerous territory if you keep going over them. Forget the past and get on with your Christian life.

There is one more area that could be a pitfall for some, if they are not aware of the danger. We should be careful about looking back with pride at the times which we consider to be our spiritual mountain tops. These may be times when we were "flying high." This attitude may cause us to feel that at that time we "had arrived." However, none of us has been as high spiritually or as close to God as we need to be. True, it is a growth process. As we develop our spiritual wings, the closeness will also develop. Your present state should be better than the former.

Our eyes must be focused on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages us to, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." We are again reminded in Luke 21:28 to, " . . . look up, and lift up your heads; for (Jesus) your redemption draweth nigh."

Once again the admonition is to lift up our eyes; however, this time there is a job given for us to do. John 4:35 states, "Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." If you must look back, think about all those people out in the world who are in the same state you were, just a few years ago. Remember, "Except by God's grace, there go I." Develop Godly compassion and concern for those outside the "ark of safety." Think about their fate. Remember their condition in your prayers. Pray that God will give you wisdom and an opportunity to change the effects of their past. Without realizing it, you will have changed your focus from yourself to others and, in the process, forgotten the past.

There is work for you to do now. LOOK AHEAD! THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

ó written by Earl Lewis W