Brothers and Sisters,
We’re halfway through 2023! How is the year going for you? I pray it has been a time of harvesting the bounty of your First Fruits offering and feeling abundantly blessed. Sadly, that has not been my first-half-of-2023 experience. To be honest, this has been one of the most challenging times of my life. And when things are challenging, I am always tempted to think back on “better” days when I was younger and less gray, caring for my beautiful children, not my ailing parents.
If you’re in the same boat, I want to share with you what God has shared with me:
Don’t Look Back!
A few months ago, when I was throwing myself the granddaddy of all pity parties, our Savior brought me to the story of Lot’s wife in the book of Genesis. As a quick recap, Lot was living in the city of Sodom, a place of great wickedness and sinfulness, when the Lord decided to destroy it along with all of its inhabitants. Because He is merciful, God sent angels to lead Lot, his wife, and their two daughters to safety, with the instruction, “Flee for your lives. Don’t look back.”
I wonder what Lot’s wife was thinking as she departed all she had ever known. Sodom, the city of her youth, was fading in the distance behind her. As she stared forward into the unknown, was she remembering happier times before the city became so corrupt? Was she grieving the loss of her home, her friends, or possibly her security? Were her memories so distorted by her fear of the future that she actually contemplated returning?
Despite the angel’s warnings, Lot’s wife DID look back, and she became a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26).
Whatever her reasons, looking back literally stopped Lot’s wife in her tracks. She was stuck, doomed forever to dwell in that in-between place.
As I read the story, God gently told me I was stuck too. It was time to move on. I needed to stop yearning for life to be the way it used to be and focus on the here and now. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18).
And then, in the next verse of Isaiah, He reminds me that my current circumstances are just part of my journey; they are not my destination. If I simply take my eyes off of what used to be and fix them on Jesus, I won’t just survive; I will thrive. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
Finally, He assures me I don’t have to endure my struggles alone. He is with me (Psalm 23:4). If I let Him, He will carry my burdens (Matt. 11:28-29). And if I trust Him and I’m patient, everything will work out as it should (Phil. 4:19).
So I have a new resolve! No more longing for what used to be or fearing what might be ahead. I am going to walk the path Jesus forges for me with my hand firmly in His. There are sure to be rocky stretches, rainy days, and dark moments, but He has promised He will lead me through them.
From now on, I’m not looking back.
I’m not looking forward.
I’m looking at Him.