Are you one to look back or one to look forward? I think people have a bent one way or the other. I also think that we all have a tendency to look back when things are hard.
Doesn't the past look rosier when the present is difficult?
That is where the people of Israel are in Jeremiah 42-44. They are being told that they will be in captivity in Babylon but that the Lord will be with them, save and deliver them and they will eventually get back to their homeland. Now, there is some good news in there, but most of us would get a bit overwhelmed by the first line and find it hard to hear the rest.
Now, the Lord knew their tendencies and their wandering hearts. He specifically told them "Do not go back to Egypt . . . if you do, you will die there."
Why did the Lord not want them to go back to Egypt? It had been a while and these people did not know this from first hand experience - but Egypt was a place of slavery and torment. These stories of slavery and stories of God's miraculous deliverance were told and retold down through the generations. This was a GIANT step backwards in their walk with God.
Why did they want to go back to Egypt?
Perhaps stories had been told that glorified some aspects of Egyptian life? Maybe they preferred a known enemy.
They were at a crossroad of trust where even the dark past looked inviting.
Why do we, as God's people, return to places of captivity? to places of our sinful past? to places of hurt and defeat?
Why are we just more comfortable in our known misery?
Maybe this is one reason that keeping a journal is wise. This is why sharing our story with others is important. It reminds us of just what we have been saved from and what we are moving toward.
On Saturday, I saw an older man, dressed as a woman, walking down the street. Now, in this part of Chicago, that is not terribly unusual. My first thought was just sadness, then I thought how sin disguises itself to look like something else. The past can dress up like a pretty lady when the reality is that it is an old man with nothing to offer you any more. What was destructive in your life then is still destructive. What enslaved you then could still enslave you now if you allow it.
The Lord wants us to follow Him. We have to be moving forward to do that. I want to keep my eyes focused ahead of me, even when it is scary or doesn't make sense. I don't want to glorify past relationships or situations that were ultimately, not for my good. I don't want to be trapped by my enemies and sins of the past.
The Lord promises to walk beside me. He promises that He has a plan and that He will bring me life.
That is my Jesus, whom I want to follow every step of the way. I want to learn from my past, remember His faithfulness but always be looking ahead.
I'd rather be in Babylon with the Lord's presence than in Egypt sitting by the Nile in disobedience.
Are you looking to go back or are you looking to move ahead?