Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Do any of you remember the old Rocky and Bullwinkle shows? I used to really like them as a child, but I liked them more when I watched them as an adult. I discovered the humor was so subtle at times that you had to be an adult to appreciate it. Anyway, there was a segment of the show that starred Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. Mr. Peabody was this dog who was really smart. The premise of the segment was, “If a boy can own a dog, why can’t a dog own a boy?” Mr. Peabody had invented this machine called “The Way Back Machine.” He and Sherman would go into the machine and be transported back into time and history and had all kinds of adventures. It was really cool!!!
I don’t know why, but this got me to thinking today. We all tend to look back on our lives at one time or another. I guess part of it is that as we get older, most of our life is behind us so we think back to the “good ole days,” or “the day” if you are from the Baby Boomer generation. I’ve done that a lot in life. The problem is that usually when I look back reality goes away. We either look back at our sins and mistakes or we push all that aside and think how great “those days” were. I gotta admit that the music was good but the lives of most of our musician heroes were anything but glorious. Generally speaking, “those days” were not all that great, after all.
So, what does all this have to do with anything? Well for us as Christ followers, I think looking back on our lives, even as Christians, is not such a good thing. There are some times where scripture talks about looking back as a good thing. In Joshua 4:1-8 for example, the people were commanded to take twelve stones out of the Jordan River after the tribes had crossed it on dry land. In verse 7 Joshua tells them the purpose. It was so when the Israelite children who were to come later asked about this strange pile of stones, the parents were to tell them of how God cut off the waters of the Jordan and the people were able to escape from the Egyptians. To put this into modern times, I think it is good to look back at the things that God had done for us and that give Him glory. After all, James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the ‘Father of lights….” (James 1:17). Thinking back in this way makes us thankful and grateful for our salvation in Christ.
But for the most part, we don’t look back in this way. If you are like me, you look back in remorse and shame. Depending on your personality type, it can get so bad that it becomes debilitating and hinders our growth in Christ. We end up “working” and trying to do things to prove to God we are worthy of His love. I can tell you from experience, none of that works. It basically makes us like a Pharisee always trying to put on an outside show of how good you are, but never really allowing God to change us from the inside. I think we need to listen to Jesus when He said to the would-be follower, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
Or maybe we need to do what Paul did, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14). Looking back even at the good things in our life don’t seem to be much help in our walk with the Lord. In context, Philippians 3 talks about all of Paul’s accolades he had in his life, and how they nothing in light of “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8) You’ve probably heard that in the Christian life, we are never standing still. We are either moving forward or going backwards. Going back gets us nothing. The future is so much better.
I guess the lesson for me in all of this is that I cannot spend time looking back unless it brings glory to our Lord Jesus. Anything else is dung, as Paul said. I’ll leave you with one more verse: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Let’s not waste our time being sorrowful or remorseful over the sins and mistakes of our past. If we have confessed all that, God has forgiven us. If we keep trying to make up for what God has already forgiven, we show that we really don’t trust God. Everything about God is trustworthy. He is perfect. If He is not perfect in all things, He is not God at all. Trust Christ with your lives and look ahead brothers and sisters!