Friday, November 20, 2015

Church Signs: Don't Look Back...

A church near us has a sign up that reads, "Don't look back. You're not going that way."

In one sense, I agree with the message. We shouldn't live in the past and should focus on what is ahead of us each day. The Apostle Paul said that he was forgetting what was in his past and looking forward to what God had ahead of him. It is true that many times we long for the "good old days," tending to romanticize the past. We also tend to use our past as an excuse for our actions in the present. Looking back can be detrimental to living in the present.

On the other hand, I believe there are times when looking back can be beneficial, even necessary. It's been said that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. We can learn much from the experience of others. We can also learn much from our own experiences. Much of what we call wisdom is simply learning from what has happened in our past.

Sometimes our problems in the present are caused by our refusal to look at our past. Rather than confronting things which we have done or which others have done to us, we bury them and move on. Except we never really move on. Like a bad horror movie, those things which we think we have buried come back to haunt us. Not forgiving someone who has sinned against us can cause problems with present day relationships. Not dealing with past abuse and putting it behind a wall can cause any number of problems. Sometimes our own past actions can affect our lives if they are not dealt with.

Like Paul, we do need to look ahead to what God has for us. Sometimes we need that to make it through our day-to-day. But there are times when we need to look back. When driving a vehicle, it is necessary to occasionally check the rear view mirror to see if we can safely change lanes or to see if any danger is coming up behind us. Sometimes we need to check the rear view mirror of our life.

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