This past weekend we took the kids to Lanterns in the Garden at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. A spectacular display of silk lanterns lit up against the night sky. We all “oohed” and “aahed” over the brilliance of each display. Truly a magnificent sight that is well worth the price of admission. As we were walking down the path to view each display, our youngest turned her head back to look at something but kept walking forward. Of course, she was oblivious to all the people who moved out of her way. It wasn’t safe for her or the people around her. Several times, I had to grab her from walking into someone or something. Finally, I said to her, “you can’t move ahead while looking back”.
Isn’t that true in life. We keep on looking behind us while trying to move ahead. We look back at past hurts or a former way of life. Trying to either hold on or remember things, but if we keep looking back we cannot move ahead. If we try, we will get hurt. It’s not safe or wise to try to move ahead while looking back.
However, life is not just about plowing ahead and moving forward. Sometimes it’s good to remember our past. In fact, God even commands us at times to remember our past. Joshua 4 talks about how the Israelites were to set up 12 memorial stones as a reminder of what God had done to help them cross over the Jordan River on to dry land. When future generations asked what the stones were for, it was supposed to remind them of God’s power and to fear the Lord.
I am sure when the younger generations asked what the stones stood for, they didn’t just talk about all the good things. I imagine that since it was an oral tradition, they told the whole story about their slavery, wandering through the desert, unfaithfulness to God and yet despite those hardships, God was faithful and still choose to bless them.
History serves as a reminder to help us not forget things. Not just to remember God’s blessings, but also to learn from hard and painful things so we do not repeat them. Even now we remember the Holocaust, bombing of Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and other horrible atrocities so that we learn from those times.
But we don’t just sit around ruminating on the past, at some point, you have to stop looking back and you have to move ahead.
After the Israelites set up the stones in the Jordan River, they kept going and entered into the Promised Land.
Remember your past. Embrace it. It will always be a part of who you are and will shape who you will become. But don’t let it hold you back. Let it serve as a reminder of God’s power, but continue to move ahead as you fear the Lord and enter into the Promised Land.