There is a conventional wisdom in our world today. It goes something like this: when people begin to get old (whatever that is), they have the tendency to look back rather than forward. They revel in memories of of yesteryear, what “used to be”, and how much better it was “back then...”.Many times it seems that it does not make much difference what those times really were – life is in the eye of the beholder. They tend toward living on memories - sometimes good memories, sometimes bad memories. Some lives have been so traumatic, and memories so painful, that it is difficult to discuss the past, and they often carry the burden and are tormented much as though they were still there, even if silently. This can often seem almost unbearable...
In these modern times, it seems to this writer at least, there is an increasing tendency for people of ALL ages to do this to a greater or lesser degree depending upon various factors and circumstances. We often hear the expression “they are living in the past”. Many vehicles have been invented to facilitate a preoccupation, or at least an active interest, in happenings of the past – movies, historical records (official and private), books, novels, etc. Sometimes it seems that we are a world hyperactive in the present, and also preoccupied with past. As for the future, some are horrified at the thought, and others are almost cavalier in their attitude about the future.
Sometimes we look back because we cannot see anything in front...! There seems nothing to look FORWARD to – the present is too painful to think about, so – we live in past. At least we can make of the past what we want it to be in the present. Living in the past many times is an effort to regain control – our lives can become so complicated and complex that we desperately attempt to get control of SOMETHING. We cannot change the past – but we can reform it in our image which gives us the illusion being in control. We go back over and over in a futile attempt to "fix" whatever is unpleasant, and to somehow reconstruct tthe memory in our minds. There is a very disappointing irony to the result of this. The illusion of being in control does not make us in control! Looking back to the past can be an affliction to anyone of any age.
But there is no need to try to control or "fix" the past by continually looking back at it - if you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He has already fixed your past for you forever!
God's Word has much to say about this phenomenon, as it occurs in the world, and among His people, in various circumstances. Solomon in his experiential and observational wisdom said: “Do not say, 'Why were the former days better than these?', for you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” He is saying, WAIT...stop and think about what you are doing! It is a warning. Something is awry with our logic, our thought processes and more than likely our MEMORY as well.
What has just been said relates to the past that CANNOT BE GONE BACK TO in any way. It cannot be revisited physically in terms of the same circumstances, etc. However, there are times and circumstances in which some CAN GO BACK to. There is the expression heard so often about someone who is dreaming about going back the “the good days”. I once heard my father comment about this statement, “You can have those 'good 'ol days', I've been there!” Sometimes there are some who make the trek back into the past, at least as far as location. Sometimes it is successful, sometimes no so happily. Many find that, yes you can “go home”, but there “may not be anyone there...” It is just not like it used to be. But for most of humanity, we we tend to remember only the “good times”. This is good – up to a point. Of course, others to the other extreme, which is definitely NOT good - (Genesis 19:26). Lot's wife disobeyed the instruction to NOT look back. Speculation has covered the field of reasons WHY she looked back. We simply not know for sure. But we do know one thing for sure – IT WAS MEANT TO ILLUSTRATE THE GREAT DANGER OF “LOOKING BACK” FOR WRONG REASONS (Luke 17:32).
Looking back can do much harm to us in a society and world that is becoming increasingly volatile and insecure.(2 Timothy 3:1-5). Sometimes, the more difficulties and strains that we must endure as God's people can drive us into reclusion, then drive us into the past for comfort from the present. This can influence us take our eyes of the future hope – Jesus Christ, and the world that is coming. This can also weaken our diligence in facing the work God has given each of us, and thereby hinders our spiritual growth as well.
There are certainly good reasons for looking back – if the good reasons are the right reasons. At times, what may seem a “good reason” may be contrary to a God reason. The two may clash. Here again, much WISOM is needed. Billy Graham said once that it is possible to become so “heaven minded” that we are ineffective on earth. This is the other extreme of living so much in the future, that the present is neglected.
Past, Present, and Future – they are all a matter of balance, that God intends to consider wisely, and in faith to commit them all to Him. May we always beware of any extreme, and resist the urge to begin longing for "the way used to be". I pray that we will all live in the present – respect and learn from the past – and look forward to the future and a life in eternity in the splendor of the glorified children of God! He will take care of the past - no need to look back. The past is safe in His hands. amd ttaken care of, regardless of what it has been.
He is Lord of our YESTERDAYS - OUR TODAYS - and OUR TOMORROWS...
“And Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God' “.- Luke 9:62 (Amplified Bible)
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