"But his wife looked back from behind him,
and she became a pillar of salt."
and she became a pillar of salt."
Are you stuck living in the past? Do you miss the way things used to be so much that you can't seem to move on with your life? Are you depressed because life did not turn out the way you thought it would? Well, read on. There is a way to jump start your life again.
Many of you may be familiar with the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to the Bible, God revealed to Abraham His intentions to destroy those two cities, because of the wickedness of the people who lived there. Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities if ten righteous men could be found.
God sent two angels in the form of men to Sodom in order to find those ten righteous men. As they arrived, they met Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Lot insisted that the men stay the night with his family. That evening men from the city came to Lot's door demanding that Lot turn the strangers over to them. Lot refused, and just when it seemed like the door to Lot's house would be broken down, the angels caused every member of the mob to become blind.
At that moment the angels were convinced that ten righteous men could not be found in the city. They told Lot to collect his family and leave Sodom, because the city was going to be destroyed. Lot gathered his wife and two daughters together and they escaped the city.
Genesis 19:17 reads, "As soon as they had brought them out, one of them (the angels) said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!"
The story continues that God rained down burning hot sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah, destroying both cities and all of the inhabitants. Unfortunately, it was at that moment that Lot's wife disobeyed the command of the angels and verse 26 informs us that "Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."
The subject of today's message is "Don't Look Back!"
Many of us today are caught up in the past. We allow things that happened to us long ago to keep us from moving on. We allow them to keep us from moving in the direction that God has planned for our live. That is why it is important for us to understand three things: why we look back, the danger of looking back, and how to stop looking back.
So why did Lot's wife look back?
• Perhaps she looked back because she had to leave behind her home.
• Perhaps she looked back because she had to leave behind most of her possessions.
• Perhaps she looked back because she left behind her friends.
• Perhaps she looked back because she left behind the only life she had ever known.
Whatever her reason for looking back, Lot's wife paid the ultimate price for her disobedience. She became a literal monument to everyone who has ever been stuck in the past and refused to move forward with their life.
So, why do we look back?
• Perhaps we look back because of unresolved issues.
• Perhaps we look back because of a bad relationship.
• Perhaps we look back because of a lost job.
• Perhaps we look back because of an unfulfilled dream.
Sometimes we look back when our life seems more difficult than it was in the past. We look back at happier times in our life, and we become bitter over our current circumstance. Rather than deal with our present trial, we retreat to the land of "if only."
• If only I had stayed with so and so.
• If only I had stayed at such and such job.
• If only I had done things differently.
There are also times in our life that keep us from moving forward because of unresolved sin. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
We need to remember that once we have asked God for forgiveness from our sins He will forgive us. As far as God is concerned it is over ... forgotten. God does not throw it back up in our face.
How beautifully King David explained the word forgiveness in Psalm 32:1-2 ...
"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered; blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit."
Do yourself a favor ... forgive yourself ... and don't look back!
Looking back can be dangerous. The Bible tells us that after the Israelites left Egypt and were traveling in the desert that they began complaining about the food that God had provided them on their journey. God had made sure that they never had to be hungry by providing a bread-like substance called manna for free. It literally rain from above. All they had to do was gather it up and eat to their hearts content.
Of course, just like many of us do when we receive something for nothing, they started taking it for granted.
Chapter 11:4 tells us that, "the rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost -- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
As punishment for their complaints God told the people that they would have to eat quail until they could not eat any more. But before they were able to consume the meat God struck down every complaining person with the plague and they died.
The danger of looking back is that if we continue to dwell on memories of the past they can destroy us.
• Looking back can lead to discouragement.
• Looking back can lead to discontentment.
• Looking back can lead to unforgiveness.
• Looking back can lead to bitterness.
• Looking back can lead to hopelessness.
We end up on a merry-go-round where every day is the same as the day before. We are afraid to move forward. Just like the Israelites, we spend our time wailing about how pitiful our lives are and how much better our lives were back then.
So how do we stop looking back? It starts with a willingness to surrender ourselves completely over to the will of God. In order to stop our reflections on the past we must ask God to help renew our minds. We must ask Him for the strength to leave the past behind. We must ask God to heal our emotional scars. We must turn it all over to the Lord.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
When we turn it over to the Lord:
• We come into a state of forgiveness.
• We come into a state of peace.
• We come into a state of joy.
• We come into a state of trust.
• We come into a state of hope.
God has an incredible journey planned for each of us, but we must be willing to get rid of our excess baggage. God does not care where we've been. He just cares about where we are going. We must understand that we are not alone in our travels.
Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
• God is our copilot to help keep us on the right path.
• He is our bright and shining star when we are lost in the dark.
• He is the Way!
We can make it to our heavenly destination, but we must be willing to let go of the past, and remember ... Don't Look Back!