Sometimes the Biblical stories don’t apply to our daily experiences, but on occasion, we make connections to what we are hearing. A little boy in Sunday School listened to the story of Lot’s wife as she fled from Sodom and Gomorrah. The text says she looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. The boy listened intently and then said, “That’s nothing. My mother looked back and ran into a telephone pole.” He may not have understood the whole story, but he got the message that it is unsafe to look back.
Too many of us see life through the lens of the rearview mirror. When Jack told me his story, I was aware that his life was dominated by the things that happened in the past. He talked about his college days and the fun he experienced. When he talked about his marriage failure, there was sadness and regret. His relationships with his former wife and his two adult children had remained hostile. Every description of his life centered on the past. That led to his depression and the feeling of failure in most of his days.
Lot’s wife had a lot in common with Jack. When her husband and her uncle by marriage had conflicts over grazing rights for their flocks, his uncle Abraham offered Lot the choice and fertile Southern Judean fields and moved his flocks to the more rugged hillside areas. The attraction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah offered social engagement and social interaction. Ultimately, Lot had to be rescued along with his wife and the cost in his family relationships was devastating.
Paul taught a different perspective on living. He said, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching for those which are ahead, I press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Here are a few guidelines to avoid rearview living.
First, let go of the past and its memories. Make some new points of reference. The “good old days” are gone.
Second, discover new joys and rewards. Too many times our focus on the past tends to bind us to our memories of failure.
Third, stop concentrating on the negative and set more positive goals for the present and the future. If you only look in the rearview mirror, you will miss most of the scenery in front of you. Enjoy seeing the present before it too becomes the past!