We are trained to look to the future, never look back, set our sights on what is to come, live in the moment, move on to the future, and forget the past. I guess this is good advise when the past is holding you back, or preventing you from creating a future. I wonder though, if we just looked back differently, if we might see things a bit more clearly.
I once knew a man who lived so much in the past, that he found it hard to live in the present. The past hurt and humiliation of a particular sport coach's words and actions haunted him so, that 20 years later he was still dwelling on the pain that individual had inflicted way back in high school. The past was his present, because he replayed those old scripts in his head continually, and they affected not only his career, and public life, but his relationships and private life as well. Looking back was not only painful for him, but it was devastating for both his present, and his future. But I wonder, if he had looked back at something different, perhaps that would not have been the case.
I have a friend that is facing a possible move. The thought of a move is not pleasant to her, and she wishes to stay where she is. This same friend has confided in me that she is not happy where she is, nor are her children and husband. They have not built satisfying relationships in their present town, and they find people basically unfriendly there. Her husband finds his current job stressful, and he longs for a more relaxed way of life. Her children are very social, and long for more friends to connect with on a greater level. So, why I questioned is she not up for a change? It is the unknown, she replied, the having to relearn and readjust, and re acclimate herself to new surroundings as she had to do just two years earlier when she moved to her present location.
In both of these people's lives looking back is not the problem, it is at what they are looking.
If we look back on what the Lord has done in our past, how he has brought us through, protected us, made the path straight, guided us, or just poured out His mercy and grace on us, then how can we not face both our present and our future with anticipation and hope.
Life is stinking hard for so many. Hardships abound, and lest we think we are the only ones who struggle, we need only look as far as the next individual to discover we are not alone.
That man I knew, had so much to live for in his present, and he could have looked back at the loving family he came from, the cancer that the Lord healed when he was just a child, the gift of children he was blessed with, the many people who looked up to him and counted on him, the place of leadership for which the Lord had equipped him, and all the blessings that had brought him to a role of prestige and honor. He didn't look back at what God had given, and from what he had been delivered. He couldn't see what the Lord did in his life in spite of the cruel words of that coach so long ago, because he wasn't looking.
My friend looking towards a move, isn't looking back at where the Lord met her in the last move, or how He always supplied her needs. She can't see how He revealed Himself over and over to herself and her family, because she only sees the difficulty and inconvenience that she experienced. She doesn't look at what the Lord taught her in the uncomfortableness of a new place or what were the many blessings she and her family were to those around them. She can't see the benefit of the pain she already experienced, and that loss of sight, is stealing he ability to see the possibilities in what the Lord might do in and through her at the new location, not to mention that the chances that she will like her new surroundings better are very good!
This can be the case in so many circumstances. As we face the uncertainty of this earth existence, job change, a bad diagnosis, pain, loss of income, disappointment, or just the everyday inconveniences that life throws our way. Looking back can be a wonderful thing, when we can see what the Lord has done for and through us in years past.
Looking back can give us not only hope for the future, but the courage to face the present.