Don’t look back: Three words that together make up what I believe is a tymely prophetic utterance for the Body of Christ in this hour. Let me say them again: Don’t look back! Should you? Can you? Do you dare? Overcoming the past takes faith, and something more. Courage that’s what it takes to shed the problems and mistakes of the past and to dream again. When relinquishing the past means an uncertain tomorrow when you’re at the end of yourself and about to give up. You can find refuge in the shadow of Jesus. Listen as he gently whispers, “It’s all right, my child. I will help you. I will never leave you.”*
Being a disciple of Jesus can at tymes, at least initially, seem to be an easy decision and attractive because of the excitement and thrills. However, as Jesus has followers asking if they can be His disciple or actually invites others, His final word to one is essentially “Once you start following Me, if you look back, you’re not fit for what’s ahead. I need to learn from the experiences of my past, but I cannot afford to dwell there, because if I do, I will miss where Jesus is going and what Jesus is doing today. God was, is, and will always be in the business of redeeming our lives, our past mistakes–even our future!
One thing I know for sure, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” Luke 9:62 NIV.
Many are carrying hurts and wounds from the past. We don’t shake them off and come up higher because we keep looking back to the people and circumstances that crushed our hearts. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use the injustice to propel us to places of greater authority in the kingdom like Joseph did, we rehearse our past in our own minds like a scratched CD. Out of the abundance of the bitterness and resentment in our hearts, our mouth speaks poison that defiles us. And we remain less-than-effective in proclaiming the kingdom of God because we won’t bury the dead and say farewell to the past. The good news is, Jesus is our past, present and future healer.
Others are paralyzed by the past. We’ve become spiritual paraplegics, so to speak—unable to move forward because fear of an unpleasant history repeating itself has gripped our souls. We’ve given up on the dreams that God has put in our hearts because of a traumatic life event arranged by the evil one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. We are afraid to pursue the prophetic promises the Lord has spoken over our lives, sometimes more than once. Like Lot’s wife, we continue looking back at the death and destruction and figuratively turn into a pillar of salt, frozen in time. The good news is, Jesus came to loosen us from our spiritual paralysis.
Then there’s shame, a spiritual disease that’s running rampant in the Body of Christ because of past sin. Because we don’t understand the heart of the Father, we wallow in a stew of guilt and condemnation and feel unworthy to move out into the things of God. When Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”Luke 9:62 NIV, I don’t believe He was condemning someone who looked back. I believe He was warning us of the danger of looking back. Why? Because looking back makes us spiritually unfit for kingdom work. By looking back, we are essentially putting God’s kingdom off until tomorrow. Faith is now. The good news is, Jesus bore all our shame and all our sin so we can repent and move forward in the grace of God.
Yes, there is such a thing as looking back to past victories to encourage ourselves in the Lord like David did. But other than for purposes of glorifying His name, looking back has little value—and it can rob our peace, our joy and even our destiny. Jesus had asked some men to follow him. Each said they would, but they had other commitments they wanted to take care of first. One wished to wait for his father to die, so he could take care of his family’s affairs. Another wanted tyme to say goodbye to his family. They would follow Jesus tomorrow. Or in a few years.
A farmer distracted from his work will not plow in a straight row. He’ll have to start the row all over again and focus until all the rows are straight and the field is ready for planting crops. It takes dedication and focus. And this is true for so many things. If a person is not completely dedicated to a healthy diet and regular exercise, achieving physical fitness may become very difficult or impossible. A little fast food here, a lazy morning there, and then—hey! Where did those extra pounds come from? “Cheating” just a couple of tymes shouldn’t matter too much, right?
We Christians lose focus all too often. The temptation is always there to set aside serving God for just a moment. I can go back to being a full-tyme Christian later. For now, I just want to be part-tyme. I mean, I’ll really commit myself to being an honest, self-controlled Christian just after I’m finished fooling around and experiencing life. I’ll forgive my roommate later; let me just spread a few embarrassing stories first. I promise I’ll start living my faith, right after tonight’s party. C’mon! I don’t want my friends think I’m some sort of goody-two-shoes. I’ll start going to church again after I’ve graduated and have a career. School is pretty hard for me right now, and I could really use the extra sleep…
I’m reminded of the teaching on the Beatitudes. God created man in His own image and after His likeness; He created man with a forward look, with a pair of eyes that would constantly be looking forward and not backward. By looking backward instead of forward, we bring on ourselves much of our distress, our unhappiness, our frustration, our confusion, our lack of peace. … It seems the easiest thing in the world to do is to live in the past, when we live in the past, there are and will be regrets. We see the nurturing of hurt feelings. There will be thoughts of injustice, there will be memories of things that should be buried and forgotten. We are reluctant to loose our hold on the past and hesitate to start living in the future. As a result, instead of joy and adventure, we know only the pangs of remorse, and we never have peace of mind.
We are to “…endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:3 KJV. God promises to be with us through even the worst tymes. My past has seen plenty of heartache and sorrow, I can tell you that I would be living a life of defeat if I did not resist the temptation to relive the abandonment, abuse and losses I’ve experienced. I had to make it my determined purpose to move on. The secret to moving forward is to repent, forgive and press on. The Lord is saying to you “Don’t look back.” It’s not only prophetic; it’s scriptural. Receive this insight today, and run the race toward your prophetic destiny unburdened by the past.
When you cross the finish line, Jesus will be there to reward you as a good and faithful servant who spent your energy building the kingdom instead of allowing the devil to destroy your peace. The point is, when you’re going forward in life, there’s no reason to dwell on your past. You have to move past your past. Consider the words of Paul the apostle, who had to forgive himself for religious mistakes and forgive others for trespasses against him:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Phil. 3:12-14, NKJV.
Don’t get caught up in what you did… Look forward to what you WILL DO!
*Resource: Max Lucado & Jennifer LeClaire