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Don't Look Back: Refocus


It’s a New Year! What does that mean to you? Do you go into the New Year with delightful expectancy? Or fear? 

Are you anxious to begin again? Or anxiety ridden from all that you endured in the previous year? 

Do you take time to celebrate your accomplishments? Or are you eating ice cream straight out of the container as you languish over the failures?

If you are like me, you have experienced each of the previous scenarios at different times depending on your previous years’ experience. And I do believe there is value in taking a day sometime in January (or even December) to reflect and review. To celebrate what went well and to contemplate what did not. 

However, there comes a point when we must move forward. We can’t sit back on our laurels and we should never hunker down into the muck and mire of our regrets. There is a conversation that takes place between Allen and his father in Richard Paul Evans’ book, Walking on Water, that, I believe, makes my point. 

“The past makes a good bishop but a poor king.” 

“What does that mean?” I said.

“It means that it’s good to take counsel from the past but not to be ruled by it. Otherwise we end up using today to fight yesterday’s battles and miss tomorrow’s promise.” 

So while we may take a day to reassess the previous year, we need to make sure it does not completely control our current moments, or future movements. I don’t want us to miss what God has in store for us as we move into the future. 

Don’t Look Back

How we look at the past can either help or hinder us as we move into the future. So let’s take Lot’s wife as a cautionary (true) tale. 

Lot’s wife missed out on tomorrow’s promise when she failed to obey the simple command of the angel of the Lord, as she was leaving her beloved home in the city of Sodom. 

Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! ~Genesis 19:17b

Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19:24–26)

Now when it says she looked back, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the English word within the text…look. The Hebrew word for “look” is nabat (Strong’s Concordance H5027), and it means “to look intently in a favorable manner”. So, as we can see she didn’t just glance back over her shoulder. She was looking back with intense longing. Instead of trusting in the goodness of God and the future He had for her and her family, she was longing for her previous life…living among wicked people in a city known for its sexual depravity.   Her heart was with the wicked city and it’s ways, not leaning toward a future with a Holy God. 

Jesus himself, warns us to remember Lot’s wife when He was answering the Pharisees question of when the Kingdom of God would come. 

Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. ~ Luke 17:32-33

Instead of her life being preserved, her longing look back was preserved, in a pillar of salt. A look that pointed out the true affections of her heart. Where is your heart? Are you still sitting in the self-condemnation of past sin and failures? Are you glancing back at the past, reconsidering repeating a sin you thought was long buried? Or, are you looking forward to all that God is calling you to? Leaving behind those things that the enemy of your soul intends to use to harm you? Satan wants to preserve our sins. To keep us deep in the mire of fear and doubt. He wants us to continue on a path of self-destruction…to keep looking back with longing so that we miss tomorrow’s promise from God. 

Focus Forward

In order to move forward into the New year, we must defeat the lies of the enemy with the truth of God’s Word. We can look to each new day as an opportunity to walk forward into the future with Jesus. Let’s embrace these words from Oswald Chambers, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in God’s hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  

To this I say, YES!  His mercies are new every morning. 

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.(Lamentations 3:22-23).

So let’s refocus our hearts with intention toward the heart of God. Let’s leave behind those things that we are no longer controlled by. Let’s leave behind those things we are no longer called to do. Let’s step into the invincible future with our invincible God! 

May yours be a blessed and happy New Year, 

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