“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” – Psalm 139:5
Forgetting the Past and What’s Behind You
Don’t look back, look forward to where you are going. Abram was given a commission by God to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household to go to the land that God would show Him. In Genesis 13:14-15, once Abram had separated from Lot, God instructs him to look up, toward the east, west, north, and south, and see the land that He would give to him and his descendants. Abraham has to look upward to keep moving forward towards the Promised Land. Psalm 121:1 says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?” When we lift our eyes towards the Heavens, our perspective changes. We can begin to see more clearly that God is our source of strength in troubled times. During troubled times you must train yourself to look up toward the heavens, and allow your whole perspective will change from a place of fear to faith.
One summer, while serving in ministry, our church had a gathering down on some property near the Potomac River in Maryland. My role was to help make sure the event went smoothly. When I finally took a break, I walked down to the pier and looked out onto the water. While standing there, I heard the Lord say, “Go forward and never look back.” I thought the Spirit was referring to my failing marriage, but today I understand He was speaking about going forward toward my destiny and never looking back at the past.
Keep Going and Don’t Look Back
The Lord taught me two important things while transitioning into a new season: you can never go forward looking back and you can’t make progress looking backwards. If we know progress is good for us, why is it so difficult to let go? In Genesis 19, we read a noteworthy story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot and his family during their time living in Sodom and Gomorrah. God was preparing to destroy these two cities because all the people of Sodom were very wicked, but the Lord gives Lot and his family the opportunity to flee the city or stay behind and be destroyed, those were his options.
Angels commanded them to flee from the doomed city Sodom. They warned the group not to look back. The angels even took their hand to hurry them on their way, but Lot and his wife lingered, reluctant to leave their home. “When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.” As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” Lot’s wife was the only one who disobeyed the angel’s warning and looked back at the destruction of the doomed city. As a result, she “became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:13-26). I don’t know what caused Lot’s wife to look back; perhaps it was her ties to the city. All we can do is learn from her mistake. Jesus
warns us that it will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. He says, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).
Let’s look at a different story from the Book of Ruth chapters 1-4. Remember how Ruth and Naomi kept going while never looking back and experienced the blessings of God? Ruth loves her mother-in-law Naomi, and has great compassion for her, because of the tremendous loss of not only her husband, but both of her sons. Ruth’s sister-in-law, Orpah, makes the choice to go back to her people in Moab, but Ruth cannot bear to part from Naomi or from the God of Israel that she had come to know. When you have an option to go back, you forfeit the plan of God for your life. You must have perseverance, and resolute tenacity when pursuing your destiny.
But Ruth told Naomi: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth has an open mind and a teachable spirit, so she listens to Naomi and takes her advice in relationship to Boaz. Ruth follows Naomi’s instructions to the letter, trusts the Lord, and He rewards her faithfulness. If Ruth had looked back to what was lost, she would not have had the opportunity to marry Boaz. Her loyalty certainly resulted in long-term good. In an unexpected way, God allows Ruth to remarry and give birth to a son named Obed, who becomes grandfather to King David. To move forward, we must forget things that are behind us and reach
forward to things ahead of us.
Forgetting the things behind is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we may face, especially when those “things” were a major part of our daily lives. I’ve had to forget past failures, disappointments, financial loss, and more to move forward into God’s purposes. Sometimes moving on feels like leaving a piece of yourself behind. When you are in between phases, you may feel there is a tug of war in your soul attempting to tear you apart. I assure you, you can move ahead and press on toward the goal with joy.
Minister Dr. A. Francine Green