Don't Look Back

When I was a small child I found out about a pet contest that I could enter.  I didn’t have a pet at the time, but my cousin did.  I asked my parents and they agreed to allow me to borrow my cousin’s dog, AJ, and enter him in the contest.  I had to learn to walk him on a leash and get him to do a few tricks for the judges.  The day came and I did my best, I ended up winning a blue ribbon- first place in the contest.

In elementary school we were asked to participate in a school fundraiser.  We had to go door to door to sell jars of spices.  I was only in the third grade but I took it very seriously.  I went door to door in my neighborhood, asked people at my parents’ workplaces, and tried to sell the spices to anyone and everyone I came in contact with.  I led the school in sales and ultimately took first place with a healthy sized cash prize for a third grader.

In high school, I met a boy.  We dated, we even had feelings of love for one another, but time would reveal that this relationship was not one that God desired.  We would go our separate ways.  My heart would break, but without this moment I would have never known the love of the Father and of my husband that I do now.

I did well in college, graduated a year earlier than I should have.  Began my grown up life, newly married, as a full time elementary teacher, went on to have my babies and worked part-time in ministry by my husband’s side.

I became a runner.  God asked me to run 1,000 miles and raise awareness for a country I would fall in love with.  I finished the 1,000 miles with a full marathon. 

My husband and I adopted a child.  I flew to Africa, seven months pregnant, only to see God’s hand move in miraculous ways and our child was able to come home to his forever family.

At each intersection of completing another chapter of my story, I have had the opportunity just like you to remember my Glory Days.  I have had the opportunity to stay in that last chapter and anticipate the future but without moving from one page to the next, it would have been impossible to see what God wanted to do next in me and through me.

It’s a lesson most of us at some point or another have to learn.  We find ourselves living in past regret or replaying past moments-- sometimes even relishing the memories that haunt our souls and forbid us to escape the prison we find our lives trapped within.  Many times the past feels inescapable, it feels as if we have fallen into the depths of a dark hole and it is only through a life lived following our Savior’s voice that we can climb our way out and live with peace and purpose to our new lives found in God and His Word.

We can look to a familiar story within God’s Word to learn a lesson and allow ourselves to go beyond just looking back and into what God has ahead.

In Genesis 19, we see the story of Lot and his wife and the city of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Now, this city was full of wickedness.  It was a place where sin, shame, deceit, and godlessness was prevalent. It was a city that Abraham fought and interceded to save, asking God not to destroy it if there were as little as ten righteous people within it. 

The Lord, as a God of grace, found Lot, his wife and two daughters there and was merciful to allow them to travel outside of the city before He destroyed it.  In verses 16-25, the angels of the Lord rescue this family and take them outside of the city, they warn them not to look back, and allow them to reach the safety of the next village before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.

In verse 26, we see the unthinkable happen-“ But Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt”.  How could she not see the rescue?  How could she not see the new life and plan God had laid out for her and her family?  She looked back and instantly was frozen in time, a statue of lifelessness, a pillar that others would see and be reminded what a life lived looking back can bring.

At times I feel like all of us are like Lot’s wife?  There are days we look back and it is what keeps us from seeing what God has ahead.  Many times it is Christians that miss what God has planned for now and today because we have stories and glory days that we box God into rather than allowing Him to do a new thing within us and around us.  We have opportunities to give Him even more glory through our lives today and tomorrow if we allow ourselves to turn the page into what He has planned.  It takes an audacious obedience and faith to go into the unknown, but we can depend on the fact that God is always faithful!

God wants to do something new… through your life and in your story.  Keep your eyes focused on Him and your heart set upon His Word.  Allow Him to bring you out from your past, whether it was full of sadness or glory days, and allow Him to do a new thing for His glory!

Mande Chapman