I want to bless everyone who is reading this. God has a purpose and a destiny for your life. God has not forgotten about you. Jesus said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you” (see Hebrews 13:5).
God is a forward looking God. The devil looks back. If you have ever done something wrong, the devil says “look there at what you did.” But God says,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
So what’s it going to be? Living in unforgiveness and regret for the rest of your life? Or receiving Christ’s forgiveness for your sins and moving forward?
“But it’s not fair!” someone may point out. “You ought to pay for all your sins!”
Yes, but Jesus took those sins on the cross. They were nailed to that cross. Why take them up and put them on yourself? That is self-flagellation. That is masochism. That is to do yourself harm. Worse, it is to reject God’s forgiveness for your sins. It is actually to live in some sort of denial as to what Christ offers each one of us — complete forgiveness though we mess up so badly sometimes.
Should we then wallow in our sin? Why do some push forward and others do not push forward? Well, sometimes it’s for this very reason — wallowing in our own sin. I do not say this out of a sense of condemnation or superiority. Far from it! I say this because I have been there, regretting my past failures. It’s like thick miry clay. You put your foot in that stuff, and it really sticks.
But here is what the Bible says:
“And so he brought me up from the roaring pit, from the miry clay. And he put my feet upon a rock; he made my steps steady.” (Psalm 40:2, LEB)
That is what God has done for each one of us. Through Christ, who is the “rock of our salvation,” he has taken us and given us a hope. He has put victorious living within reach but now we need to activate it! How do we activate it? We activate it in the following ways:
First, we activate it by going forward into freedom, forgiveness, and faith and refusing to go back into bondage, bitterness, and doubt. Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32) This, I think, is the second shortest verse in the Bible (after John 11:35, “Jesus wept”). It may be the second shortest, but properly understood and applied, I think it is one of the most powerful.
Let’s put this into perspective. Do you remember the people Moses led out of Egypt?
They said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you treated us this way, to bring us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11)
“Why have you brought Yahweh’s assembly into this wilderness, that we should die there, we and our animals? Why have you made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in to this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.” (Numbers 20:4-5)
You may feel like grumbling and complaining right now on account of the situation you may find yourself in, but where will it get you? God commands us to look forward in faith so we can inherit his promises. For he is a good God and has good things in store for those who will “take him at his word.” What are we to believe? First, we are to believe that he is able, and willing, to do exceedingly abundantly in our lives.
“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
It all starts with his power, for he is indeed able to save. Yes, he can and wills to save you from the situation that you are in. And it might not be as bad as you think it is!
Second, we are to believe that he is faithful and will forgive us the sins of our past. It is his promise according to his word.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Those people who left Egypt, first, they forgot about God’s power which he showed them in the wilderness, and while leaving Egypt, for he parted the Red Sea! Instead, when the going got rough (and it often was rough), they kept looking back! The thought was, “We made a mistake! We should have stayed in Egypt.” Yes, that was their thought, even though God had shown them miracles in the desert.
So you’re in the desert, right? Has God ever done miracles for you? My guess is that if you think hard, you will be able to think about something good that happened, that is evidence of God’s presence not far from you! The Bible says,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.” (James 1:17)
Look around you. Have you noticed any gifts lately? How about a person who has come into your life? How about a friend? How about a relationship? What about something God spoke to you as you were reading the Scriptures? What about an encouraging word in which you “knew” that God had spoken to you, to help you. Think back. Don’t think long. Evidence for God’s goodness is all around you — if you will but seek it.
“The heavens declare the glory of God. The expanse shows his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
“The heavens declare his righteousness. All the peoples have seen his glory.” (Psalm 97:6)
It’s easy to doubt when you’re in the desert.
Jesus reminds us and says, “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32)
You do remember what happened to Lot’s wife, do you not? As Sodom and Gomorrah was being destroyed, she looked back, thinking no doubt about her losses, and became a pillar of salt (see Genesis 19:26)! This woman was too preoccupied with her losses, which were minimal by comparison, to consider her future, which was glorious by comparison. Because she focused on the past, and what she had lost, she missed out!
But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, LEB)
That is why Jesus said in the very next verse (after he said, “Remember Lot’s wife!”),
“Whoever seeks to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life preserves it.” (Luke 17:33)
Well, I hope it’s coming into perspective now. Lot’s wife was upset about her losses. Well, so, too, those Israelites were upset about their losses. But when? Only when the going got rough! What is that symptomatic of? A lack of faith! God says of those Israelites,
“Therefore I was displeased with that generation, and said, ‘They always err in their heart, but they didn’t know my ways.’” (Hebrews 3:10)
Think about it. They experienced God’s miracles in the present — demonstrating his ability and his will to do great things in the future — yet persisted in dwelling on the past. It’s a sign of doubt, my friend!
It’s time to press on with the future, and to proclaim a few things until it really sticks hard. Let us proclaim God’s goodness in the present despite our circumstances! That’s what Lot’s wife and those Israelites neglected to do! It would have saved them a lot of trouble (no pun intended, but it would have saved Lot himself a lot of trouble, too, had Lot’s wife not looked back — now read the rest of the story, in Genesis 19:27-38 and find out why).
How do we “fix” this problem of wanting to look back? It is so simple, really. We must get into the habit of regularly praising God for his goodness in the present. Yes, it really is that simple. But it doesn’t really end there.
In order to praise him, we must know his forgiveness for our sins of the past. We must also be willing to forgive others. Let’s put this into perspective. Life is not working out so well for you right now. You feel like one of those Israelites. It seems difficult even to get water. “Oh, Lord, why is life so difficult?” You begin to think about your failures. You begin to think about all the good things that could have happened … if only … if only.
And the “problem” is with the “if only”!
That “if only” is a “big” one. And God says, “Get over it,” or you’ll be like Lot’s wife — ineffective and good for nothing. But how do you get over it? It is so big. It is so overwhelming. Indeed, when you keep staring at it like that it becomes “so big”! Start looking at God! He is bigger!
I did not say your problem is easy. I don’t even know your problem. But I do know that God can overcome it. Anything we put above God, well, that’s an idol. And God is greater than our idols. And we are to have no idols above him! To put anything above God is to break the first and second of the Ten Commandments. That does not bring a blessing, but a curse! (See Exodus 20:3-6)
If your life is “bound up” in your past, then you have no vision for the future. You are “Lot’s wife.”
And if your success depends upon “making the past right” then you and I both are in big trouble! You and I are not going to fix the problems of the past. But there is One who can forgive them, and who wills to forgive them, but you must receive that forgiveness and stop “going back to Egypt all the time” as you have been doing. Stop going back to Egypt because the future is much more glorious than that … if you will believe and receive. Will you?
Receive his forgiveness. Praise him for the future. And receive and thank him for his promise, that,
“all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (see Romans 8:28).
Worship him for his goodness. For he is great, and powerful, and desires to do mighty things in your life, if you will allow him to. Worship him, and keep worshipping him, and refuse to be pulled in by the lies of the devil, who is backwards focused, and not forward focused like God is.
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for God’s Kingdom.” (Luke 9:62)
Think about what this means in your life. Let go of your pain. Forgive those who caused you pain. Allow God to fill your heart. And praise God for all that he is going to do in your future.
Will you be tested? You sure will be. This attitude of praising God and letting go is going to have to “stick” and then something else is going to stick, too: joy and fulfillment.
Go forward! God has destined you for greatness. You are “great” if you will walk in God’s commandments, and if you will walk in his love.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Indeed surely there is a future hope, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)
*The printable tract is provided as a PDF document that you can easily print on any letter-sized paper. Print the page (on both sides). If your printer cannot print both sides, simply print on one side, then feed the paper back in, and print on the other. Then, simply fold the page three times in half. This tract is small (2.75″ x 4.25″ — a bit larger than a business card) and convenient for responsible free distribution.