One warm day while walking on a trail, I saw an etched message carved on the path. It read, “TURN BACK”. For a moment I actually felt a touch of concern. Then I had to laugh at the humor.
But isn’t this what we often hear in our minds when we want to try something new or when the Lord is showing us a bit of our future. I’ve heard this voice many times in my life. It was loudest when I went parachuting. Everything inside of me yelled, “STAY IN THE PLANE!” Obviously, it was a false alarm.
I remember opening night of a play in which I had a lead role. It had a cast of 200. Music, acrobats and swordsmen were involved in this elaborate production. An audience of over 3,000 showed up. It was a dream come true for me but it all came with a few personal complications. I’ve never had formal training in the art of acting and I would be working with skilled entertainers and musicians. The only thing I had to offer was my willingness to take direction, energy and enthusiasm.
I could have turned back and turned down the opportunity but that would have put me in a position to justify the act of turning back to familiar territory, and not moving forward to unchartered territory. If I had turned back, I would have been denying the very core of who I was created to be in that time in my life. It would have been disobedience, which is simply not complying with God’s will and purpose for our life. Disobedience keeps us from enjoying the good life God intends for us. But there is a much deeper downfall to turning back and disobedience. Much, much deeper.
Let’s look at the story of deliverance of Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah.(Gen. 19 Message Bible)
Before God destroyed the two cities, He chased Lot and his family out first by sending angels to hurry them out. The directives from the angels were; “Now run for your life! Don't look back! Don't stop anywhere on the plain—run for the hills or you'll be swept away." (Verse 17) These are very strong statements.
But in spite of these statements, after the cities were destroyed and everything about them was destroyed, Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. (Verses 25-26)
This story makes me wonder, “What was she thinking? Didn’t she take the angels and situation seriously?” I have come to realize I wasn’t much different than her.
Let me explain. In this text I see the story of redemption not being taken seriously by those who know better. I had been like this for many years of my life. Often times I would agree with condemnation though the bible says I am free from that. God was serious when He said, “THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus…” and yet I would turn back and gaze at the past as if it were real. Jesus was serious when He said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”, and yet I would still look at my deep failures and decide it wasn’t for me. I had often turned back to the pains and problems of my past and used them as an excuse to not move forward. I’d turn back to the utter fallen state of my pre-redemptive life and agree with its vile lies. And just a Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt so did I. I became bitter with life, self-righteous and self-loathing. I failed to hear the seriousness of the call of freedom that was before me.
Take this seriously. Your past has utterly been destroyed! Stop turning back. All the promises of God are yes and amen but they are also in front of you, not behind you. Looking back exposes a sense of connection with your past and it keeps you from seeing the truth of your future. We, through Jesus, have been fully redeemed. Through Jesus, God rained brimstone and fire, poured a river of lava out of the sky, destroyed our past and the entire plain of it and everything that grew from it.
Nothing good comes from looking at the Sodom and Gomorrah of your past. God wants us to put it down for good. He wants us to live with the urgency of running from every thought of it. Not looking back and not stopping anywhere near it or we will be swept away from our God ordained future.
Are you serious about what God says about your past and future? If you haven’t been and you want to, begin with these steps.
• Write down the negative thoughts that come to you regularly.
• Find scriptures that counter those thoughts.
• Every time negative thoughts come to you, tell yourself, “it’s not true” and repeat the scriptures several time throughout the day.
This is a process so give yourself time and you will one day notice a change in your thought life.