Looking Back or Looking Forward?
by Wes Guy
Looking Back or Looking Forward?
As the last days of the old year dawns it is wiser to look to the future than to the past. If we really intend to make the new year better than the old one there are some things that had best be left behind; bagatelle and impediments that only encumber us and hinder our progress toward the heavenly Canaan.
The start of a new year is often marked with new resolutions, new directions, and new decisions. What sort of resolutions do you intend to make for the new year?
As you look back over the past twelve months are you happy for the things that you have done, or do you wish that things had been different and that you wish you could have done a lot of things differently?
First, let us leave behind past sins. There may have been more than you can remember, but if you have confessed and forsaken them they are put away forever. It is useless to brood over what is past. God has buried it out of our sight and His. Why should we remember what He forgets?
In Luke 17:32 Jesus said "Remember Lot's wife." That is probably the most dramatic, potent illustration the Master ever used in a sermon. What did Jesus mean by that cryptic expression?
Remember the story in Genesis 13 when Abraham gave Lot the choice of land in Canaan and Lot selected the choicest near Sodom. Gradually we are told that Lot and his family moved closer and closer to the evil city and then finally settled in there, even though they knew that this city was full of evil, vile jokes, obscene language and a perverted lifestyle.
We know that the society in Sodom was shameless, degenerate, and entirely sex-perverted. Mrs. Lot not only move into Sodom, but Sodom moved into her. She was the type who loved fine things, and the mad whirl of social activities fascinated her from the beginning. She was soon caught up in the excitement of party rounds of pleasure and the evidence seems to indicate that she eventually shared much of the materialistic mind of the Sodomites.
When the angels told Lot to take his family out of Sodom Mrs Lot believed the message but there was no eagerness in her heart and no enthusiasm for the program. She was so reluctant to leave the fine appointments of her affluent Sodom home that she lingered. Her heart and life had been so bound to material things that she could hardly pull away from the accumulated treasures of those finely furnished rooms. With death at her heels, she lingered. At last Mrs. Lot began to move. The record describes how the angels had to take hold of her hands to hurry her out of the city. Genesis : 16,17.
What happened next? The Bible tells us that she "looked back." Immediately she was turned into a pillar of stone! The offense of looking back indicated a divided will. It also revealed the fact that her heart was still bound up with the affairs of a corrupt, condemned social order.
Why did Jesus say, "Remember Lot's wife?" Because He knew that many others would be just as attached to "things" as she was. They would linger, and then look back with longing heart upon those things which are forbidden.
The story of Lot's wife is a dramatic illustration that the presence of one small act of wilful disobedience can lead to eternal loss.
We should never look back!
Let us leave behind past sins, There may have been more than you can remember, but if you have confessed and forsaken them they are put away forever. It is useless to brood over what is past. God has buried it out of our sight and His. Why should we remember what He forgets?
You should also leave behind accomplished ambitions and goals that have been reached. They were once ahead, but now, by God's grace, estimable things once dreamed of have been largely or completely accomplished and you have reached the coveted tableland you once despaired of attaining. Now is a good time to look forward. At age 80 Edwin Markham wrote:
"I am done with the years that were; I am quits;
I am done with the dead and old.
They are mines worked out; I delve in their pits;
I have saved their grain of gold.
Now I turn to the future for wine and bread:
I have bidden the past adieu;
I laugh and lift hands to the years ahead;
Come on! I am ready for you!"
We must leave what is behind and not turn back. Challenges lie ahead. To turn back is to expose oneself to attack and encourage the backward drift. The apostle bids us "run….the race that is set before us." We are to look to Jesus, for He is our forerunner. His crest is like that of Henry Navarre, always in the thick of the conflict. Following Him helps us become obvious to the past. He holds out to us "the crown of glory that fadeth not away" [2 Peter 5:4]
Facing the new year
New Year's day is special for most people. Charles Lamb once remarked that no one ever regards it with indifference. And rightly so, for this particular day is the gate to the future and the finest time of all the year for new beginnings. Recently a newspaper poll indicated that, while not many people make formal New Year's resolutions anymore, the great majority do reflect thoughtfully on the past year and engage in at least some wishful thinking concerning the year just ahead.
A new year of our lives soon begins. We know not what experiences shall come to us in it, but our Saviour knows. He has trod the path of human life, and if we walk with Him, we may face the future without fear.
"Just one thing, O Master, I ask today,
Now that the old year has passed away
And a promising new year, through grace of Thine
With all the dreams of youth is mine -
Just one thing I ask as I onward go,
That I'll walk with Thee - not too fast, nor slow;
Just one thing I ask, and nothing more,
Not to linger behind, nor run before.
O Master! This is my only plea -
Take hold of my life and pilot me."
New Year Motto
They have a custom in certain parts of Africa, says a missionary, of asking every chief for his losako, or life motto. I met one day an old chief who asked for my losako. I repeated in the African language, "Love the Lord with all your heart," then asked for his losako. The old chief slowly and reverently repeated, "When you pass through the jungle be very careful to break a twig, that the next man can find his way,"
A New Year is one of Heaven's oldest gifts to man. In hopeful anticipation we may receive it as an alabaster box of precious things; talents of time to employ judiciously, jewels of faith, courage to enhance our Christian witness, occasions of service to those in need. It is exhilarating at the January gate to contemplate the pathways of the untrodden year.
The desire of the heart to walk with God and have Him guide through the many strait places in life, is put there by Jesus. And even before these desires are expressed, He draws near to bless us further.
Guideposts of the New Year
The new year is a new road. We are to journey over it. Can we know the way? Clear across the continent there is a road marked with red, white and blue signs. It is the Highway. It is easy to follow for we have but to watch for the signs. The spiritual road of life is just as clearly marked. In every page of God's word we find its guideposts. Verse after verse says, "This is the way, walk ye in it." But the red,white and blue signs of the great Highway are of little use to men who fail to look at them or heed them. And some are strangely blind or else heedless, in spiritual things. Prayer and the open Book, together with careful heed, will make certain our steps through the coming year. Let us walk the great highway of truth and righteousness. Then shall the new year be a very happy and blessed one.
A person was rummaging along the seashore, gathering treasures of stone and shell. High on the beach lay a shell more beautiful than any yet discovered. He was searching in a dreamy and listless way, looking here and there. "That shell is safe enough," he said. "I can pick it up at my leisure," But, as he waited, a higher wave swept up along the beach, recaptured the shell, and bore it back to the bosom of the ocean. How like the experiences of our lives is this! When the wave of another year has flowed back and off the shore of time, how many shells of plans, of opportunities, of purposes toward noble and better lives, lying there, you thought within your easy grasp a year ago, has it not swept into the irreversible past!
New Year Inspection
When a ship is about to start on a long voyage, it is the custom in the navy to put her through the process called "rounding the vessel." This consists partly in verifying the compasses on board - that is, in testing the magnetic needle in each compass box and ascertaining whether or not it points due north.
We are starting on another year of voyaging upon the unknown sea of life. It will do us good and not harm to consider our ways, to test our compasses, to "give more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest haply we drift away."
New Year - New Resolutions
As I look back over the year 2000 I note what has happened in this world:
- Some of the greatest natural disasters we have ever experienced
- The many wars and rumours of wars
- Famines, droughts, floods, and epidemics nearly in every country of the world
- The suffering of people and children
- The re-outbreak of that dreadful scourge EBOLA in Africa:
The sadness and worries of so many people - all these things have been prophesied, and will continue to take place until Jesus comes.
I ask myself what am I going to do in the new year? What resolve will I make which will benefit not only myself but my loved ones and my friends?
What an opportunity to make a new resolve, one that will make a difference in not only my life but in the lives of all those with whom I will be in contact - in our lives, marriages, friendships and the world - something that will mark well a new year!
I want to be ready to let Jesus crowd out everything in my life. I want to devote myself to preparing for the coming of Christ, to have a more personal relationship with Christ, and to spend more time with Him in the study of His word.
God gave everyone of us time, and because He is fair He gave us all the same amount of time. It is in this area that Satan has done a masterful job of separating us from Christ. He has us running, sprinting, and spinning faster and faster until we are dizzy, distracted and confused. He has done his job at the head of the stream diverting and stealing our time. He knows that if he is successful with those tactics, he then has us at his disposal.
So we must put away the useless and cling to the useful. We need time with God, submitting ourselves in prayer to listen, hear, and then follow His guidance implicitly. This takes dedicated time - not something that can be rushed over, pushed through, or fit in. That means everything else must revolve around our time with God.
When I look back over the past year I could see how Satan tried to work his will in me. I could see that I became so absorbed in being successful and helping others that I left God out. "Oh, I had my prayers and studies in the morning. I had the form of godliness, but no real power". As we know when there is no power or electricity, the lights go out!
So when I boiled it all down, time with my best friend Jesus was what I needed most. So this new year I am dedicating myself to spending that needed time with Him. I will schedule that time with Him and allow nothing to take it from me.
May your resolution be to live as God would have you live and to have a closer relationship with Him.
This article is Copyright © 2013 by John L Morris. Used by permission.
Copyright © 2015 Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church