Five Minute Friday

Looking Back – Yes? or No?

Last night we met friends for the last outdoor concert of the summer season.  We look forward to these evenings – for the music, the great weather and, especially, for the time to catch up with our friends.  Social media and texting are good but nothing beats some face to face conversation.  Just sayin.  It doesn’t take long for the “standard” question to come up:  what have you been up to?  I tend to dread that question because I never seem to have an answer that seems interesting…or even adequate.  Not because I have been doing nothing and certainly not that the Lord hasn’t been blessing and working on my behalf, but I either cannot remember much (which is a distinct probability) or I am too quick to acknowledge His goodness – and then move on.  I just keep going with the routine flow of my days.

That is one reason I enjoy “looking back” or reviewing recent events.  Of a past month, past year, or even a recently passed season.  I even did so this week here on the blog – looked back at August – and I hope to do so again on Tuesday – looking back at lessons learned over the summer.  Whenever I do, there are always several times where I think, “oh..wow that was a blessing”  or “God certainly answered there.”  There is a real benefit in looking back.

But doesn’t God’s word also include warnings about looking back?  Today’s FMF prompt is back and my first thought was of Lot’s wife who notoriously looked back at Sodom – at the home, life (and lifestyle) she was fleeing – and turned into a pillar of salt.  That is a strong warning.  These are my five-minute thoughts.

GO – “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:63  Another strong warning.  When the Lord gives us direction  –  when He places us somewhere new, allows us a new ministry or even leads us to a much bigger “new” than we ever imagined – and we commit to follow Him, there is a real danger in looking back.

Constantly looking over our shoulder hinders us.  It makes it hard, often impossible, to stay in the right path forward.  Much like a farmer plowing a field.  His rows are going to be crooked, if not ruined, if his focus is on the plowed acres behind him.

There is a definite shift in our priorities when the present is viewed through the lens of yesterday.  For instance, the new parent who constantly thinks about her life before having a baby will not only miss many joys but her parenting certainly will not be all that it could/should be.  (And, sadly, many young couples struggle with this.)

Sometimes, “looking back” comes from over-thinking and analyzing and even from over-preparing.  We commit to following the Lord but never make progress because we continually “look back” – reassess – and think of “just one more thing” that tends our attention.  The Lord warns against this as well.  As women, we can be masters of planning.  And planning our planning.  Often, we stifle our own progress as well as those around us.

STOP – Yes, there is a time for looking back.  “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:”  Psalm 103:2  I do not want to forget all the Lord has done, and is doing, for me.  If I don’t look back to recall it, I will certainly forget.  But I do not want my looking back to be a longing for the past.  Nor do I want it to be a reason I fail to obey or fail to move forward.  Let’s keep our hand to the plough!

16 thoughts on “Looking Back – Yes? or No?

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    I appreciate your juxtaposition of the goodness in looking back (especially at what God has done) but the warnings that also come in Scripture from looking back. I am afraid I often do them backwards, not look back on the goodness and instead look back on what I shouldn’t.

    Thanks for your thoughts. They will give me reflection today.

    1. So glad you stopped by today – thanks for your comment! Looking for the same wisdom…to know when to look back and when to not! Have a great weekend, Kara!

  2. I agree with you that there is nothing like a good face-to-face. And I love looking back on the goodness of the Lord. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Great post, Jennifer! I share your feelings about that question “What have you been up to?” When I am put on the spot I can rarely think of anything interesting to say! And yes, there’s a time to look back but we d need to be careful. I heard someone compare it to driving – you do need to glance in your rear view mirror from time to time but your main focus should be on the road ahead.

    1. Great analogy…I’m going to remember that each time I’m looking in my mirror while driving:) Glad you stopped by today!

  4. I just had a wonderful, unplanned face-to-face with a friend this afternoon. It was 90+ degrees here, but the breeze on my front porch was cool, so we sat and talked for hours. Interestingly, we talked about how things in our past form who we are today—and how we interpret our “today” through a lens of our experience. It’s definitely a delicate balance: looking back to process and learn—so we can look forward to today and tomorrow.

    1. Oh my – chats with friends are only made better when they take place on the porch!! Glad you had a nice visit…and hope you have a wonderful long weekend as well! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  5. You know Jen, I think about Lot’s wife often and I wonder if what happened to her isn’t a lesson for us. i.e. The Lord wants to do something NEW in our lives and we grumble and groan rather than submit, trust, and obey. So we keep looking back with (maybe) resentment of the new thing He wants to do – we may not turn to salt but most definitely our “salt” loses its flavor and testimony because of lack of trusting Him. I believe I’m writing a blog post here in your comments. Enough already. I love when writers get me thinking outside the normal realm!!! THANKS!

    1. I had not really considered that, although we don’t turn to salt, so often our disobedience – and our longing to go back – causes us to lose our flavor. And testimony. Great point – and sobering. Hope you enjoy a wonderful Labor Day today!! Thanks for stopping by and for your insightful comment!

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