Recently I saw the saying, “Don’t look back: you’re not going that way” on Pinterest, and now it seems like I am seeing it all over the place.
Is that good advice? It can be sometimes, if looking back is keeping you from moving forward, if it is keeping you from obedience, if it tempts you in any kind of wrong way, if it causes you to wallow in regret instead of repentance or instead of learning a better way, if it fuels your longing for something or someone you should not have.
We don’t know all the reasons Lot’s family was told not to look back, but when Jesus admonished His hearers to “Remember Lot’s wife,” who did look back and was turned into a pillar of salt, the context was that of the coming of the kingdom of God, and just after mentioning her, He said, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” Clearly when God says, “Go!” then it is not time to look back.
But are there times to look back? This depiction of the saying above amused me, because in context, not looking back would be a major safety hazard!
This one also makes a good point:
There are times God tells us to look back. Just this morning I read, “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged” (Isaiah 51:10). It is good to look back at where the Lord found us and where He brought us from. Many times in both the Old and New Testaments, a prophet, preacher, or apostle recounted Israel’s history to them, reminding them of their unfaithfulness and His faithfulness and mercy and grace. They were told to “remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deuteronomy 8:2), “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee” (Deuteronomy 32:7), “Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth” (I Chronicles 16:12).
A couple of churches mentioned in Revelation were admonished to “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent,” (Revelation 2:5), and “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (2:2-3).
Peter said, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (I Peter 3:1-2).
So, do we look back or do we not look back? We can’t live life by catch phrases. There are times and reasons to look back, but there are times and reasons not to look back: it depends on what we are looking at and why and what effect it has on us.
I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.