Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up!
It’s beyond tempting. To look back and not forward. To drive through the past and forget to thrive in the present. The enemy brings old situations and people up. Before I know it, I’m regressing at warp speed. The blinders are on and I’m plunging…and then…my Beloved…Rescues me!
Holding my hand lovingly, he reminds me: the present is My gift to you. A gift is something freely given, to be eagerly anticipated. Lovingly wrapped, containing thoughtful and unique treasure.
The story of Lot’s family comes to mind. I’m not well-versed in Scripture, I confess. So what I remembered is that the angels told Lot and his family to do two things: (1) Flee the city and (2) Not look back. For some reason, his wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Hmmm, I wondered, why DID God do that? Was He speaking to the very reasons we’re called to live forwards and not backwards? Check out this insight from www.gotquestions.org:
Genesis 19 tells the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, lived in Sodom with his family. His daughters were engaged to local men. Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom, the area where financial and judicial transactions took place, when two angels came into town. Lot invited them to stay with his family. After a rather exciting evening, the angels made sure Lot, his wife, and his two daughters left before God destroyed the city (Genesis 19:13). As they fled, the angels warned them, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away” (Genesis 19:17).
Lot ran, his daughters close behind. “But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). She lagged behind. She turned and watched the flaming sulfur fall from the sky, consuming everything she valued. Then it consumed her. The Hebrew for “looked back” means more than to glance over one’s shoulder. It means “to regard, to consider, to pay attention to.” The Scriptures don’t say whether her death was a punishment for valuing her old life so much that she hesitated in obeying, or if it was a simple consequence of her reluctance to leave her life quickly. Either she identified too much with the city—and joined it—or she neglected to fully obey God’s warning, and she died.
We’re fortunate to receive similar warnings. Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us to take off the old self that is ruled by sin and be renewed, putting on the new self that is in the likeness of God. Similarly, 1 John 5:16 says that willful, deliberate sin can lead to death. Lot’s wife wasn’t able to accept that. What she chose to value in her heart led her to sin, which led to her death.
The Bible isn’t clear whether Lot’s wife was covered in the salt that rained down with the brimstone or if her remains were dusted with a coating of salt later. But it is interesting that she is described as a “pillar.” The Hebrew for “pillar” refers to a garrison or a deputy, that is, something set to watch over something else. The image of Lot’s wife standing watch over the Dead Sea area—where to this day no life can exist—is a poignant reminder to us not to look back or turn back from the profession of faith we have made, but to follow Christ without hesitation and abide in His love.
A couple weeks ago, God revealed a comforting truth. “I don’t want you looking back to the past. The babies came Home with me. You can either look back sadly at what YOU thought should be—for a time—no matter how sick or whole they would have been. OR, you can totally. Wholeheartedly. Trust Me. Know that in MY PLAN: both the Present *AND* Future shine brighter than you could ever fathom. Your babies were blessed to be on Earth, held safely in your womb for just long enough. Once I prepared their eternal places in Heaven, my Angels rescued Isaac, Gracelee and Sarah Jane. They were saved from the trials and anguish of this world!”
What did the angel say to the women at the tomb? “Do not be afraid! You are looking for Jesus who WAS crucified. He’s not here! He IS risen” In other words, please don’t look back to the past. The resurrection has happened, and the hope-filled future has begun! Shake off the legalistic past…know full well that you now wear the robe of His New Covenant. Enjoy the celebration!
Does fear of the FUTURE sometimes claim you as victim? I find myself doing one thing that I enjoy: playing a game with the kids, working out, cooking. And in the most random spaces, worry tries to sink it’s ugly claws into me. “Did I schedule that appointment? What’s for dinner tomorrow? Have I been forgiven by that person for what happened last month? How am I ever going to fit in the extra appointments this week?”
That’s not the voice of My King! He helps me reign it back in. Neither what has been or what will be matters as much as this: being alive, fully in the present, bathed in complete Peace. The Peace that surpasses all understanding. So I claim that in Jesus’ name. Simply say “thank You. for the blessings that come with each breath.” We hear His timing is perfect. But yet at times we doubt.
The image above popped up on Facebook a couple days ago. At the time, the number is what really caught me. Knowing full well that it’s no coincidence there are the same number of days in a year. A daily reminder from our Love, “I’ve got you! No worries, babydoll! Enjoy life…I paint all these beautiful pictures…bloom all these exquisite flowers…help the birds sing their melodies…and plant the people, words, feelings, situations…all for YOU. You are my daughter, I’m super-crazy for you and love you with an everlasting love!
This post has been a couple weeks in the making. Important decisions are being made. Life-changing implications all around. Just when the way out seems impossible, our precious Jesus speaks His Present Peace over that ugly anxiety. Yesterday when I sat down to write this, I glanced over my Jesus Calling. And about fell out of my chair!
Time and again, I need to repent for living where He doesn’t want me to. We are trapped in the flesh, and it’s far from easy. But oh Glory, what release comes when we enjoy the Gift of today!
In the end, we have a choice: look back with regret, look forward with trepidation, or look UP in the present moment. The best part? We’re not on our own to make that decision. For the birthday of the Church, Pentecost, God gave us the best gift EVER in the Holy Spirit. The more you seek His counsel and rely on His guidance, the more you learn to align your path with His. The groovier life becomes!
Years ago, my friend Cathie printed out that quarter’s Children’s Liturgy sessions that I was teaching. I remember getting them. Promptly lost them. Prayed incessantly through St.Anthony’s intercession (he’s my guy! always comes around with stuff I’ve lost). Cathie said several times: I don’t mind! I can print you a new set. Well, I thought to myself, I value Cathie’s time and the trees too much. It will turn up.
I reluctantly changed my tune. Days before I was to teach. As I thanked Cathie for the lesson reprint, I got in the van. Before I turned over the ignition, I looked up. My first packet had been tucked above my head…in the visor…all this time. And in that heartbeat, I heard God whisper: “you can pray all you want, but if you don’t LOOK UP, answers will be missed…my precious daughter!”
Yesterday’s the past. Tomorrow’s the future. Today’s a gift. That’s why it’s known as the present! Learn to savor the gift as you lovingly unwrap one ‘peace’ at a time.