We always look back. Our history of the world, a nation, our faith, our family and our own personal story all have great significance for our lives moving forward. We learn from history, both from the successes and achievements as well as from the mistakes made. History is a platform on which to build a better future.
When God told Joshua to build a memorial of stones marking the supernatural crossing of the Red Sea it was so that future generations would not forget who brought them out of slavery. When we tell our children of the miraculous works of God in our lives, stories of deliverance, healing and provision it is to build their faith that what God has done for us, He will do for them. When they know that God has made good on His promises in our lives they will be positioned to believe He will do the same for them. History is important and positive when we hold this perspective. However, there are ways to look back which will lead us nowhere at al.
Last week we I talked about the next new thing. Transitioning to a new place or new job or new role takes courage and faith. As I continued to meditate on this the Lord showed me that an area where the enemy is often able to detain us from following, with joy, into something new, is having us dwell on what has been. If we cling to where we have been, where we are comfortable, even with its ups and downs it will chain us to a place God no longer wants us to inhabit. We may not have loved every minute of our job but we knew what to expect and what was expected of us. We may not love everything about where we currently live but when we really think about leaving we suddenly reflect on all the positive things about it and what we are giving up. I was reminded of the Israelites leaving Egypt. When God was supernaturally freeing them and leading them out to the promised land all they could think about was loosing the onions and leeks, not baking bricks all day! Sounds familiar! The enemy always wants to divert our focus from the promises of God for our future to what has been and what we may be giving up.
Lets look again at Isaiah 43:18-19
“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
When God is moving us into something new He is rather clear that we are not to dwell on the past. It is terribly difficult to move forward while our heads are turned looking back. We inevitably will stumble or loose our way.
This scripture admonishes us to really look at the new thing God is doing. If we are not focused on it we may very well miss it. Sometimes when looking forward we see nothing at all in the natural….no new job, no new house, no new friend. Yet God says to keep our eyes open because He will make a way, a road in an apparent wilderness, bringing refreshment and life in what looks arid and dry.
As I was coaching a precious woman of God this weekend the Lord continued to teach me about another area where looking back can get us into trouble. There are times where wounding caused by others keep us chained to the past. Sometimes the Lord will take us back to a painful time and heal us there. Yet other times the enemy will simply have us relive it to torment us over and over again.
Our own mistakes also serve as shackles chaining us to the past through false guilt and shame and we experience the talons of regret piercing our very souls. Regret is really agreeing with the enemy. When we agree with Satan through self condemnation ( he is the accuser of the brethren) we empower him. Its really the only power he has over us. Agreement with what he says about us in direct contrast to what God says. According to God He loves us and forgives our mistakes. I remember buying a home in the bay area years ago. We looked at the house once at about 11 am. It was quiet and perfect. We moved in and then I heard it. Traffic. Morning and evening rush hour traffic noise carried up the hill and sounded like it was coming through our living room! I had made a mistake! How could I have been so stupid! Sleepless nights ensued and after a few months of this constant self recrimination I fell into a pit of depression. Please note that this was a state I was not used to, it was new territory for an optimist. However my negative thoughts drove me there and there I stayed until my mentor showed me the way up and out of the stronghold I had let be established through wrong thinking which led to a habit of self condemnation where the enemy had me pinned down, unable to move. I had to choose to forgive myself, imagine that! God had already done it and I needed to follow His lead. I also had to begin to praise Him and acknowledge that He was bigger than my mistake! In the end that home became a place of praise and blessing and in fact trained me to block out noise which became very helpful when he led me to job where my office window was always open and abutted a freeway overpass in San Franciso along with being in an open room full of engineers playing bizarre music while they worked!
As you look back create a thankful list for all God has done for you and know He will do it again! Acknowledge thoughts of regret and shame and self condemnation as a strategy of the enemy to keep you where you are or where you have been. Open your eyes to where He is leading and those rivers will flow. He promised!