Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)
TITLE: Forward, March!
By Marilyn K. Smith
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I had made the final decision to walk away from all things comfortable and familiar. Corruption, followed by persecution, and to a certain degree, lateral violence in the workplace, had made it impossible for me to remain and still hold on to my sanity, integrity…and peace. Little did I know that I could not hold on to any of it and that peace would only come as I learned not to look back but to free fall into the Master’s will.
I was reminded of incidences in Scripture where God instruction is, “Don’t look back.” The first deals with longing for something that measures investment in the past— accomplishments, status, progression toward a certain goal. In Gen. 19:25 Lot’s wife is running for a place of safety from the destruction going on in Sodom. She had lived there, had a home there, and was established in the community where she lived. Her family had settled there and made a home for themselves in that particular city. As she moved away from harm and judgment, she hesitated (v. 26), possibly just for a moment, to gaze back at what she had known—what had been, in some way, comfortable to her. The result of that slight pause became death for her. The angel of the Lord had warned, “Don’t look back” (v. 17).
During my time of brokenness, I remembered another incident in Luke 9 where Jesus is commenting about someone who has “put his hand to the plow” or started a job –in this case, plowing a field—and then looked back…perhaps to see the work he had already completed and what was left to do. He had clearly heard the call but he was a man of purpose, wanting to go home to his family and finish other duties before committing to the Master’s work. The Lord stated in verse 62 that, “he is not fit” for the job! That seems to be a harsh statement to the majority of us working folks.
However, I know the desire to “gaze back” and long for my own plans to be fulfilled. It felt good to see how far I had come in my career and to know I had “a plan” in place. In a moment I was snatched away from all of it! It hurt to be in an unfamiliar place and not to be able to rely on years of experience. I had “plans to retire” there. You see—I am a “nester” and when I settle myself in, I’m rooted in. In other words I am stubborn. No amount of interesting or available opportunities elsewhere is enough to move me. I’m like a large boulder. In my mind I’ve become part of this place and I will not decide willingly to uproot myself. In my spirit, however, I was well aware that God had begun the uprooting process. In my mind I felt secure, trusting in my own abilities rather than trusting God. I’m rebellious and was fighting the realization that I’m not “fit” to step into God’s new work with this attitude. I’d become self-centered and prideful. God rarely leaves us in one place of ministry for long and thirty years was a miracle! I should have been grateful for work completed in Jesus name. God, in His wisdom and grace, grabs the crowbar and starts prying me away. Amid tears, groanings and great wailings, I finally drag myself upright and head bowed, look in shame at God only to mutter, “What now…where now?” Somewhat later I would repent and ask for forgiveness. With an understanding heart and strong arm He helps me up, dusts me off and takes my hand. I am able now to look forward as He leads me into greater joy and deeper fellowship with Him. Will He have to say, “Don’t look back” again soon? Probably.
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