As I was writing this post I heard the Lord say two things, “You can never go forward, looking back!” and  “You can’t make progress looking back”  

Merriam –Webster defines progress as movement forward or toward a place. In Philippians 3 (NIV), the Apostle Paul encourages us to press forward towards the mark…

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” Philippians 3:12-4:1 5d4c0425-2520-4cf2-8966-2389158b4640

Why is it so difficult to let go?

Genesis 19 tells us the story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot, his wife and two daughters and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God was preparing to destroy these two cities because all the people of Sodom were very wicked and vile, but the Lord gave the opportunity to Lot and his family to flee the city.  Stay behind and be destroyed. Go forward and be saved.

In Genesis 18:17-23, Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous  that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

Lot’s wife’s name is unknown, she is referred to only as “Lot’s wife.”  What we do know about her is that the angels commanded Lot's wife to flee from the doomed city Sodom with her husband and daughters. They warned the group not to look back.  The angels even took their hand to hurry them on their way, because she and Lot lingered, reluctant to leave their home. “When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.” As soon as they had brought them out, one of them 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!” Genesis 19:17 The saves us, he forgives us, he has compassion on us, not because of our goodness, but because of his grace. 

Lot’s wife was the only one who disobeyed the angel’s warning and looked back at the destruction of the doomed city. As a result, she “became a pillar of salt” (verse 26). I don’t know what caused Lot’s wife to look back, perhaps because of her ties to the city, one thing we can do is learn from her mistake. Jesus warns us today, "Remember Lots Wife." Luke…

Many times we hold on to the past when we should be letting go.  If we are to experience the blessings that God has preplanned for us then we must let go of those things that hold us back.  “For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Let’s look at a different story. The stories of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible reveal two women who kept going, never looked back, and experienced the blessings of God. Ruth loved her mother-in-law Naomi, and had great compassion for her, seeing that she had lost not only her husband, but both of her sons.

Ruth’s sister-in-law, Orpah, made the choice to go back to her people in Moab, but Ruth could not bear to part from Naomi or from the God of Israel that she had come to know. At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. Ruth 1:14

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16

Ruth had an open mind and a teachable spirit, so she listened to her mother-in-law and took her advice (Ruth 3:2-5). Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions to the letter; she trusted the Lord, and He rewarded her faithfulness.

If Ruth had looked back to what was lost, she would not have had the opportunity to marry Boaz. Her loyalty certainly resulted in long-term good. In an unexpected way, God allowed Ruth to remarry and give birth to a son named Obed who became grandfather to King David. “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Ruth 4:13-15

To move forward we must forget those things that are behind us.  Forgetting those things which are behind so you can reach forward to those things which are ahead can bring gut-wrenching pain to your soul.  I know that pain all too well as I have experienced it a number of times. Sometimes moving on feels like leaving a piece of yourself behind. Other times reaching forward to those things which are ahead is, well, let's just say you may feel there is a tug of war in your soul threatening to tear you apart.

Forgetting those things which are behind is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we can face, especially when those "things" were a major part of our daily lives. It could be relationships, friendships…and more.  On this journey of faith, I've had to "forget" a husband, past failures and disappointments, financial loss, several ministries and more. reach

But I can assure you that we can forget those things which are behind. Or at least we can remember them without the unpleasant or uncomfortable pain we felt while we were making the transition. And we can press on toward the goal with joy. I can specifically recall a time in my life in which I had to let go of things that were keeping me from moving forward in God's purpose and plan for my life.  In one particular situation, I recall the Holy Spirit speaking to me telling me to, “Go forward and don't look back.”  I was awestruck because I had never heard the Spirit speaking to me this way about such a personal life changing decision. No matter how painful I had to keep moving forward even though the situation did not change immediately.

We all have choices whether we will hold on to the past and miss what’s in front of us forgetting what’s behind and pressing forward towards what lies ahead of us. 

God is a progressive God. He's always moving forward. We have to resist the temptation to go back. Resist the temptation to look back because the past is the past and no matter how much you wish you could go back and change it you can’t.  Our ultimate goal is to obtain the prize Christ has already attained for us. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Be encouraged, don’t look back you’ll miss what’s in front of you.

Published by Dr. A. Francine Green