Going Forward, Looking Back

Luke thrashed about trying to wake from his dream stupor. His chest was heavy like a loaded barbell thrust upon him, making it almost impossible to breathe. What is that noise?

Luke bolted upright in his bed. Smoke filled his lungs and he gasped for air. Flames danced before his clouded eyes. The fire alarm pierced the night. He turned to wake his wife and found an empty bed.

“Honey, where are you?” His words lost in the dense smoke.

Stumbling out of bed, Luke crawled to the door and out into the hallway, heeding the warning his mother drilled into him. “Stay low in case of fire. Smoke rises.”

Flames erupted around him, singeing the hairs on his arms. He called out again.

“Help,” she said.

He turned in the direction of her voice, but couldn’t find her. “Where are you?”

“Over here.” Flames lit the hall, illuminating the staircase. Her fingers gripped one of the wooden spindles. The railing had given away and she held to the one remaining lifeline.

“Hold on,” Luke said, grabbing her hand. “Hang on tight and don’t look down.” He knew her fear of heights would paralyze her if she did.

She turned her head.

“Don’t!”

Too late. Her fingers slipped. Her scream deafening the night.

Lot’s wife couldn’t help herself. Her town was on fire, she was fleeing to safety, but she had to turn around and look back even when warned against it. What could it hurt?

She paid the cost with her life.

Do we get stuck in the past? Perhaps we’ve made bad decisions that have cost us (or others close to us) big time. Or we’ve said something to a loved one that we regret. Or maybe our spouse has left the marriage and the hurt has us locked in its vice grip.

Any of these sound familiar? What can we learn from Lot’s wife?

Obey directions. Lot and his family were told to flee and not look back. Why did she have to sneak a peek? Same reason a child has to test a hot burner. It’s human nature. When we’re told not to do something we just have to try it! Sometimes disobedience can have catastrophic repercussions. Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt. What will it take for us to just obey? Let’s remember that the next time we head down the wrong path.

Keep focused. Sodom and Gomorrah was under fire. I’m sure everyone was screaming, running in circles. Lot’s wife lost her focus and turned back to see what has happening. Are there times when we’re so busy that we lose our focus? Maybe we forget the real reason for taking on a certain project. Or we give a little piece of ourselves to too much and do a haphazard job. How about we focus on one or two things and keep our eyes ahead?

Let go. Lot’s wife couldn’t let go of the past. A lot had happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. It was time for them to get out and move on. Have we allowed our hurt to turn into bitterness? Do we hold on to it so others would feel sorry for us? Do we continually ask why? Unfortunately, I’m sure we would have to admit to being guilty of this from time to time. I’ve once heard it said, “Never put a question mark where God has put a period.” I love this. It’s time to move on and let go. Period.

However in saying all of the above, is looking back always bad?

No, not if we’re looking back so we can move forward. 

pathway

We learn from our mistakes and see a clearer perspective of how God has directed our path at the times when we groped in the dark. When we’re in the middle of difficulties, we can’t see or think straight. We go around in circles, losing our focus. When God has brought us through, we can look back and learn from our experiences. It gives us a better perspective and makes us stronger. This is the best time to look back.

Starting a new year is also a good time to ponder over the previous 12 months and decide whether or not we’re going to grow from everything that happened. I’m not talking about making new year’s resolutions. Personally, I think they’re useless because we don’t keep them! I’m referring to making goals of how we’re going to grow more in the next 12 months. How we can be better spouses, family members, friends, workers, etc.

In order to do that, I need to look back. For me, 2013 was a challenging year. Full of ups and downs with stresses around every corner. Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t all bad. However, I want to learn from all of it—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So in 2014, I want to refocus on my faith and go deeper, refocus on my family, refocus on my writing and tole painting. It helps to turn around and see what I can learn from the past. I just can’t get stuck there.

When we move ahead we have to look back, trusting God knows best.

What about you? Did you have a rough 2013? Do you need to look back to move ahead? Share your thoughts on my blog. I would love to hear from you.

Psalm 25:1 (NIV)

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

Not Giving Up (by Amy Grant)

Being rejected is a big part of a writer’s life. In 2013, I received a lot of them—to the point where I felt like giving up. I lost my focus and passion for writing. This is part of the reason why I chose “refocus” for my 2014 word. This song is now my theme song. I’m not giving up!

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  8 comments for “Going Forward, Looking Back

  1. January 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Great post, Darlene. It touched my heart. The first couple of weeks of a new year are a time of reviewing and reassessing and making goals for the next year. Thanks for the reminder of keeping it all in perspective.

    • January 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Happy New Year, Henry! Thanks for your comment. I started this post back in November and kept struggling with what I wanted to say. It just wouldn’t come! So, I kept putting it on the back burner. It obviously wasn’t the right timing. I love the way God finally gives us HIS words!

  2. January 6, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I agree with Henry, Dar. Your post is another reminder of how much we benefit when we let go of the baggage that weighs us down. This was the theme of our Sunday morning service yesterday when we were encouraged to record the ‘baggage’ that will pull us down in the New Year. We were given opportunity to drop our pieces of paper in a suitcase and then participate in personal communion, instead of collectively. It was very moving. I trust God will continue to work in all of our lives as we move into the unknown. The words of a song Elvis sings comes to mind: “I know not what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.” Blessings and love, Ruth

    • January 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Happy New Year, Ruth! This post was going to just be about how we shouldn’t live in the past, but then I got thinking that sometimes we do need to look behind to move forward. Interesting that your pastor spoke on something similar this Sunday. Love when that happens! Go God! 🙂

  3. susan steeves
    January 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Wow, this is powerful sis. It definitely reflects our lives the year 2013. Lots of ups and downs, and curve balls I didn’t understand. Little did I know the Lord would give me the gift of “living out my dream” of becoming an instructor of hair styling by the end of the year. If we would only not question but move forward every day. I am thankful for all I learned last year and will continue to this year.
    Love ya sis!

    • January 13, 2014 at 7:47 am

      Thanks Sis. Yes, 2013 was a lot of ups and downs. I’m so happy and proud of you as you’re living out your dream!! Praise Him!

  4. Diane Spearing
    January 14, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I completely agree Dar. But sometimes we need to turn the key and lock the door of our pasts to be able to move forward.. Only God can do that…. And then fills your heart with so much peace you are ready to open up your heart again. Thanks Honey.

    • January 14, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Definitely. Sometimes that key is hard to turn, isn’t it? We’ve both been there and know it’s tough but possible. Praise Him!

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