Don’t Look Back!
E xperts agree that one of the worst things you can do when driving is to take your eyes off the road
ahead. There is no “automatic pilot” on automobiles. Earlier this year, investigators were stunned to
discover the cause of a fatal automobile accident was due to the driver being distracted by a DVD
movie he was watching—while driving! Taking your eyes off the road ahead—even for a split second—can
be dangerous. The rear-view mirror is a helpful device to keep the driver aware of traffic conditions to the
side and rear. But concentrating on what is behind can lead to major problems.
The same can be said about focusing our lives on past events to the exclusion of present obligations. Here is
a poem I discovered recently. It was written by Lea Helms Davis, and it addresses the issue of looking back.
I’ll not look back, for that is useless effort,
I cannot live one moment of yesterday again.
If I have wasted time and talents given,
If I have caused someone I love deep pain,
I cannot change the words or acts by grieving,
But I can make today a shining light.
From yesterday’s page with its mistakes I’ll turn away
And find before me a clean one on which to write.
I’ll pray for strength to make today’s page spotless,
That tomorrow I’ll have no regret.
And may God grant that in all my tomorrows
My talents will be used for good, not one misspent.
Some things about the past can bring comfort and security. Achievements, excellent academic grades,
business successes, triumphs, honors, awards—memories of these bring warmth to our lives. But memories
of failures, bad investments, and relationships turned sour can be devastating. There is something very final
about the past. There are no surprises there. Someone has observed that the past is like a cancelled check—
something to file away and not re-use. There is little value left in the past—except for lessons learned and
joys shared. The more we reflect on the past and dwell on it—to the exclusion of the present the future—the
more we realize that past memories do not get any better simply by rehashing them.
The Apostle Paul had to come to grips with his past. In the years following his conversion he had to deal
with the guilt he carried from his early efforts to persecute Christians. Perhaps this was what he had in mind
when he wrote (Philippians 3:13, 14):
“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.”
Paul refused to dwell on the dark side of his past. As a Christian, his current priorities demanded his full,
undivided attention. He wanted his todays to become his even better tomorrows.
Do Paul’s words resonate well with you? Have you been plundered by past memories? Does the Enemy
remind you constantly about your decisions that have not turned out the way you planned? Do your “battle
scars” feel like open wounds? Do you long for a place of beginning again, clean and unspotted? Well, my
friend, there is a place of beginning again. I love that passage in John 8:10-11. Jesus looked at that very
guilty woman and asked, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” (They had really
condemned her, but Jesus took care of them in a way only he could). “No, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I
condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go and sin no more.” And in the next verse, Jesus said, “I am the light of the
world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Stop looking back. Look ahead. There is light there—light to brighten your pathway. Believe it. Jesus said it.
You are reading Tuesday Mornings for November 30, 2004. For a free subscription, write to Dr. Tom Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.