To get from one point to another, it helps to watch where you are going. I am preparing for my first trip back to Boston after moving to Charlottesville, VA a little over a month ago. I know from past trips that is takes about twelve and half hours (weather and traffic permitting) to complete the drive. I could take I-95 all the way through D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City home. Or I could take I-81 through Pennsylvania and I-84 through New York and Connecticut to the Mass Pike back home to Beantown.
But imagine if I decided to drive either way backwards? I would never get far and would soon get pulled over by the police, hopefully before injuring myself or someone else.
Looking forward is critical to driving well and ultimately your safety. When you pay attention while operating your vehicle, you are able to notice changes in the legal driving speed, what other drivers are doing, bends or turns in the road, and you can make the necessary adjustments. You watch for signs that indicate gas and food options, which exit to take, and how many miles it is to your destination. Paying attention helps you avoid debris on the road, notice upcoming detours, and make changes related to weather – like slowing down in inclement weather.
Read Proverbs 4:20-27. Now read it again. Good words to heed, huh? Verse 25 says to “Let your eyes look straight ahead. Fix your gaze directly before you.”
I was talking to an alumnus of Chi Alpha recently and I asked him about the state of his spiritual journey. He started by saying it had been hard to keep his focus after some professional setbacks and dating relationships that didn’t go where he thought they might.
Unfortunately, my old student was a bit “stuck” while looking back too much at his past. He was focusing intently on mistakes he had made – big and small – and it had crippled him, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, even physically. He doubted himself and his overall value, and battled discouragement. He was spending a lot of time stewing over how much he had let others down (or so he thought). He even believed God had turned away from him, too. Such behavior is dangerous, spiritually speaking.
He had trained himself to gaze into his past and that kept him from being able to receive fresh direction from God. He forgot who he was IN CHRIST. He recently stopped going to church and small group, and felt his Christian friends did not want to hang out with him anymore – even though no one had said anything. He allowed his mind to race ahead and based on how he was feeling, assumed his friends were tired of him. He was unable to see God’s path out of such a malaise, and instead talked himself into snares and traps that were keeping him from becoming who he was created by God to be.
Since I was not close enough to throw a cup of cold water INTO his face (in the name of the Lord), I asked him what he wanted to do. Stay stuck or start fresh? To my elation, he said he would like to try, try again. He admitted he was tired of gazing at his past.
Walk wisely. Are you looking straight ahead at Jesus (Romans 12:2), leaving your past behind (Philippians 3:13)? You move ahead by keeping your eyes on Jesus.
Love is a verb,