As the new year begins, we often look back at where we have been and what has happened in the past year. Most of us want to forget 2020 because it was a challenging year, from COVID-19 to protests against racial injustice, to our current state as a divided country. The year was full of losses.
Try as we might to avoid them, we tend to look back at our losses instead of forward to the possibilities of whatever is next. We like certainty in our lives and in looking back we see the certainty of what we had.
There are millions of people who lost their job this past year and many are still unemployed. Job loss is not just a loss of income, but a loss of a community of the people they worked with and a feeling of being productive and valuable. It’s easy for them to look back and focus on their loss and what they don’t have at the moment.
Small businesses everywhere have been shut down and many will never re-open. If you are the owner, or a member of the staff, it’s understandable to look back and focus on what for many is the end of a dream as well as their livelihood.
What else has been lost this year? Life, health, relationships, etc., etc. The list can go on and on. What losses have you experienced this past year? Do you find yourself looking back?
I’m guilty of doing it. If we’re honest, we all have, it’s normal. The challenge we face is making certain we don’t get stuck in our thoughts, constantly looking back. Why is it a problem? Because the more often you look back, the longer it will take you to move forward to see God’s plan.
In Genesis 19, Lot and his wife were told to flee Sodom and Gomorrah. Their days living there were over, and they were off to a new life. Their instructions were:
Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Genesis 19:17
So, they did; they ran. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife couldn’t resist, and she looked back at what she was losing.
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26
God wanted them to move quickly away to a new place. In looking back, she never found what God’s plan was for her.
We don’t want to be like Lot’s wife, forever stuck looking backward. God wants us looking and moving forward. He has amazing plans for us.
Throughout scripture we are reminded to keep looking forward and to let go of the past.
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal. Philippians 3:13-14
I love this passage for several reasons. It reminds me to “forget the past” as step one. God knows looking back won’t help us. The text points out it won’t be easy, using the word “straining” to describe how it is moving forward. I’ll bet you feel like you are straining these days. Finally, it reminds us to “press on”, to keep moving even though we might be straining, to not quit. Remember, The past is the past, and we can’t change it.
Keep moving forward to see what God’s plans are for you. It is a new year, and His plans are good.