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Episode 66 - Don't Look Back


So, when all three of my kids needed to take their driver’s course to get their license, I taught each of them. It’s the excuse my oldest child uses when someone complains about his driving. “It’s my mom’s fault. She taught me.” I loved every minute of teaching them. I’m not really sure if they did or not, but the great thing is, they don’t know any different. Anyway, there were several things that I thought was really key, besides the basics of course, and one of those is that was when you came to a red light, be sure you can see the back tires of the car in front of you touching the road. Now, I know you want to know why you should do this. There are two reasons: 1) if the car stalls in front of you, you’ll have room to maneuver around it. And 2) If there’s a car coming up on you too quickly when you’re at a stop, then you’ll have a bit of a buffer in front of you that you can move up to keep them from rear-ending you. You’re welcome. Another thing I thought was important was to make sure you keep your eyes looking directly forward on the path where you wanted to go. Because if you drifted your eyes to the side, left or right, your hands would follow where your eyes were looking. Also, when you need to see what’s behind you, you should only glance, don’t stare, in your rearview mirror, but then to quickly get your eyes back on the path ahead.

You’ve heard this before, but I’m going to remind you. There is a reason the rearview mirror is small and the front windshield is large. You need to have a large scope of vision to see where you’re going. But you only need a small sliver to glance back at where you’ve been. But if you do much more than glance, if you keep your eyes on the rearview mirror looking back at what’s behind you, where you’ve been, then it’s most likely you won’t arrive at your destination safely. You’d likely crash, or you’d get so off course that you won’t end up where you were supposed to.

So, you know I’m not here to talk to you about driving safety tips. But this is a perfect analogy for where you might find yourself right now. Especially at the beginning of a new year. I talked about setting intentions for the year instead of New Year’s resolutions in last week’s episode. Because new year’s resolutions usually come from a place where we have regrets or disappointments in ourselves for what we weren’t able to accomplish the year before, it’s here that we’re often unable to take steps forward because we keep rehearsing past missteps. We look back at the sin, the pain, the shame, guilt, the embarrassment, the feelings of hopelessness, the rejection or abandonment, the grief, the loss, and we stare at it, remembering, rehearsing it, wanting to take it back, get a do-over, beating ourselves up.

Sometimes we think we’re being honorable saying, “I’ve asked for forgiveness. I’ve repented, but I’m just remembering so that I don’t do it again.” But it’s a tactic the Adversary uses to keep you ruminating on that which God says is forgiven. Over. Done. The Adversary keeps you stuck in your past and keeps you from moving forward towards your purpose.

Okay, look, you’ve done something wrong. You’ve sinned. And it’s bad. Right? Or you’ve been wronged. A sin done to you. Or you’ve experienced something unbearable, debilitating, something that has shifted your entire life towards a trajectory you can’t even imagine. You can wallow in it. Stay stuck there in that past. Or you can get your eyes off that rearview mirror, and put your focus on what’s ahead.

I’m going to say this, friend. It is critical that you stop allowing your past or something that has happened to you in the past, dictate who you are in life or where you are going. If we go back to the purpose of the rearview mirror in your car, it is a fraction of the size of your front windshield. It’s for glancing, not staring. Your eyes, your focus should always be on what’s ahead. So, in regard to your past, you certainly should not believe that those things make up who you are as a forgiven child of God. Isn’t it refreshing to know that your past doesn’t define who you are today, friend?

If it’s sin in your past that you’ve since repented of, God doesn’t want you to keep looking back. If you have repented, then you’ve been forgiven by God. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confess, repent, be completely forgiven. That’s your promise. Here’s something interesting: God left the word “unforgiveness” out of the scriptures. I checked and there’s nothing in the Hebrew, nothing in the Greek. “Unforgiveness” is not in the Bible.

And again, He says it’s over. Done. Forgotten. In Hebrews 8:12 God says, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

So, if God has decided not to remember your sins any longer, why would you? Because here’s what I believe. We are not set on this earth for our own comfort or advancement or success or pleasure. As believers, we are here to glorify God alone. The Westminster Catechism, which is a document to teach the basic doctrines of Christianity, answers the question, “What is the chief end of man?” In other words, what are we here for? What is my purpose and duty in life? The answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This means that our lives have true meaning beyond ourselves and the pleasure we’re pursuing. And we will only find that true meaning when we’re pursuing our chief end - to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It says nothing about enjoying a vacation home, or fulfillment in our family or work. It says nothing about enjoying monetary security or the American dream. It says nothing about enjoying even the freedoms and liberty we have in the US. But these are all indicators that there’s something put in the human heart that searches for the answer to, “What am I here for, and what is my purpose in life?”

So, back to that thing that you feel is chasing behind you in that rearview mirror. You have to get your eyes off the past and move forward. If you don’t, you’re playing right into the Adversary’s hand in keeping you from glorifying God and enjoying Him. That’s exactly what he’s trying to get you to do. He’s trying to get you to disengage, to disarmour you, to kill, steal, and destroy the testimony you have on the other side of that thing…whatever it may be. Why? Because he knows your testimony of God’s forgiveness, restoration, healing, and rebuilding will advance the kingdom of God and destroy his.

So, yes, God has a new thing for you on the other side of that thing. It’s not for your glory but for His. That’s why he’ll do it.

In Isaiah 43:19 God says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Friend, God is doing a new thing! He’s creating something new out of your sin, pain, shame, embarrassment, rejection or abandonment, grief and loss. Where you see wasteland, God sees refreshing streams of water that heal and quench the thirsty soul. This is what He does with our mess. He makes a way for the new, for His glory. Do you not see it? The only reason we’re not able to see it is because we’ve got our eyes locked tight on the rearview mirror. We’re looking at what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us, and the focus is on us, not the glory of God.

But what if the way you saw things, the way you processed all that you’ve experienced in your life, what if you believed that everything that happens is cause to let more and more people see and know the greatness of God? Not the greatness of you. But the greatness of God. How would you see the events of your life? Would you keep your eyes focused ahead, peering out that front windshield, looking, searching for that path, that way that God is making in the wilderness? He’s doing it even now. Do you not see it?

Look forward, my friend, not back. God is doing a new thing…for His glory and your enjoyment of Him forever!

Friend, if you’d like some help navigating this process of focusing on the beauty of what God is doing ahead, I’d love to be your Life Coach and Mentor.

I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at quick 30-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit to work together. Or you can visit my website and send me an email there.

Have a wonderful week, friends! See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.

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