I have been thinking about the past lately, mainly because I feel that there are fewer days ahead than are behind for me. It would seem that the longer I live, the more memories I make. I have found myself enjoying popular music clips from the late 70’s on the Midnight Special via YouTube. You have to be older to remember that show. I am amazed how so many of those songs take me back to a time, various places, and wonderful people who are long gone now. It’s not so much that they have died, rather, they, the people of my youth, are no longer young; as am I. Alas, this is the way of things. It’s one of the reasons that I am so looking forward to heaven and the forever youthful and glorious state that we will enjoy in our eternal bodies. No more entropy, just eternal youth with all of those who love the Lord and have placed their faith in Him.
I have attended all four of my high school reunions and each year, fewer and fewer alumni show up. The reunion committee decided to make the reunions every 5 years as many in our class of ’82 are dropping like flies. There is something special about that EHS (Edgewood High School) bond; that place, that school, that time, and those students, turned parents, and grandparents. In 1978 I graduated 8th grade and went into HS; that was a life or two ago. I have the memory of an elephant; it’s as vivid as it is colorful. I even like peanuts. That’s what happens when you eat right, exercise, stay off the booze, smoking, drugs, and stay in the Word. I was (am) far from perfect, but that stuff I got right. The rock band Boston was one of the top hit pop culture bands of that era. The lead singer and guitarist, Tom Scholz, wrote the lyrics to one of their hit songs that year, ‘Don’t Look Back.’ Brad Delp, Boston’s original lead singer, sang the song which is the voice we hear when we listen to that song over and over again. Delp passed away on March 22, 2007. I hope he knew the Lord.
The song itself talks about how a person who is always looking back at their life will miss what’s happening in their present. The gist of the lyrics is that when a new day breaks, a new dawn arrives, one can see beyond the road they are driving; so don’t look back. I guess this is why the windshield in our car, van, or truck is much larger than the rear view mirror. We need to be looking at our present, anticipating the future, which will eventually become our past. For the believer in Jesus, this message has an even greater meaning.
The message of this blog is all about enjoying and embracing those moments and people in our present, all while anticipating the future, which may look a bit bleak right now, but for the believer, a new dawn is arising.
One man said it this way, ‘the past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is the present, that’s why it’s God’s gift to us to enjoy and make the most of. ‘
The Apostle Paul says, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” – 2 Corinthians 6:1,2
- Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that as Christians, they (we) are all co-workers (co-laborers) in Christ and that we are not to take our salvation, that is, God’s grace, lightly (in vain). Even as he wrote this, it would seem that he wasn’t so sure that everyone in the Corinthian church was truly saved.
He quoted Isaiah 49:8 ‘now is the day of salvation’ as his appeal for them to receive Jesus by faith; a call that still works for us today. Nobody is guaranteed one more day to be saved; then, like now, we must come to faith in Christ while He may be found! (Isaiah 55:6) We only have so many days in this life to find the Lord and come to faith in Him. Once we punch out, our fate will be sealed. Come to Jesus today! You might ask, what does this have to do with looking back. Truth be told, once we have received Jesus by faith, we must never look back, go back, or even think about making our past life (before Christ) part of our present life with Christ. When we come to faith in Jesus, our past is gone, gone, gone!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
- If we are in Christ, and we are if we are saved, then we are a new creation in Christ. All of the old stuff, the bad stuff, the dark stuff in our past is gone baby! That fact that we are in Christ, He has made all things new. Ha-kuna-ma-tata!
Sometimes the devil will try and bring up some of the dark stuff from your past; you know, the ‘gone stuff.’ He is relentless in trying to pull you back in to the sewer of a life you once lived before Jesus came and delivered you. As a man (or woman) of God, you will need to plant your feet on this side of the salvation fence and keep the bow of your boat pointed toward the cross of Christ; which is the only way into Heaven.
Jesus said, for the believer, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62
- Putting one’s hand to the plow if a metaphor for placing one’s faith in Christ. Once we’re in, we need to stay in and make it our business to do God’s business all the days of our life; hence the plow vernacular.
Moses records the story of Lot, who was rescued from Sodom before God destroyed it. God sent two angels to remove Lot, his wife, and their two daughters physically and forcibly. While you will need to read the story for yourself, the gist of the lesson has more to do with not looking back, or even attempting to go back to a city that is being destroyed by God.
“The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew (devastated) those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Genesis 19:23-25
- A pillar of salt speaks for itself, this lady was DRT (dead right there). Looking back, for her, revealed what was in her heart; and what wasn’t. I am not shaming the lady for wanting to save her adult offspring that remained in the city so much as I am for her not taking advantage of a good rescue when it’s provided.
I believe that Lot represents the NT Church, their angelic rescue is the Rapture, and Lot’s wife are those who identify as a believer in Christ, but whose lifestyle is far from it.
Jesus spoke of the Rapture this way, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” – Luke 17:26-30
- Life will be seemingly normal, or as normal as it can be in a pre-tribulation context. Bad things will be happening (are happening), but life will still go on; business as ‘semi-usual.’ Then in a moment, bam, whoosh! The Rapture occurs, and in the twinkling of a moment, everything changes.
“In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” – (vs.31-33)
- This is yet another metaphor for the Rapture. While this was a reality about 40 years after Jesus spoke these words. The Jews living in and around Jerusalem when the Romans marched on it in 70AD, remembered the words of Jesus and immediately fled when they saw the approaching army from afar. They left everything, going back for nothing, and lived to tell about it.
Likewise, when the Lord returns for His Church, we won’t be going back into our houses or coming back from the fields so to speak. When the Lord returns, we will be instantly caught up to meet Him in the air and forever we will be with the Lord! No so with the ‘Lot’s wife’ group of so-called believers who will be left behind, not realizing the true condition of their own soul. They can still repent after, but it will most likely cost them their life. If we try and save our lives in this life and not consider the condition of our soul, we will lose it in the end, eternally. However, if we lose our life for the Christ’ cause and surrender ourselves to Him, we will be saved. It really does us no good to gain this world, but to lose our soul.
Jesus continues, “I tell you, in that night there will be two men (people) in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they answered and said to Him, “Where, Lord?” So He said to them, “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” – Luke 17:34-37
- If ever there was a Rapture scenario it would be this passage here. It speaks for itself, and the answer to the disciples’ question as to ‘where?’ Jesus stated, ‘wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.’ The body of Christ, the bodies of those raptured believers are going to go where the eagles gather together, in the sky. We are going to meet the Lord in the air. The key phrase here is ‘gathered together.’ We will be reunited with our loved ones in Christ.
Looking back on this life is a waste of time and energy. We are to be looking forward to what the Lord has instore for us. The future does look bleak, it’s supposed to look that way this close to the Master’s return for His Church. Our job is to be occupying and doing His bidding in the way that He has equipped us to; whatever that looks like. We can’t do that if we are looking back at the past, our past.
Paul said it this way, “Not that I have already attained (obtained it), or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended (laid hold of it); but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14
- This passage speaks for itself. If I can encourage you in this. If we didn’t have the teaching (doctrine) of the immanency of the Lord’s return for us, with all of the signs that are occurring around us, we wouldn’t have hope. God has been good to us and He is as faithful to us as His Word. He will return again for us and receive us to Himself that where He is, we will be also; and all of those who have loved His appearing.
We work, we plan, we build, and all the while we hope that the sky will crack and the Lord will descend to receive us to Himself. Woot woot!
“And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul.” – Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888)
He who spends his days looking back on the good ole days, will miss the good in today that is waiting to be lived and embraced, both people and things. While the believer has an even greater reason to celebrate the future, they are hope filled in what has been provided for them by the grace of God Almighty. Don’t look back brother (or sister), our future is as bright as the Morning Star (in reference to Jesus). He is our hope and our joy, in Him we place our faith and trust, knowing that He is soon to take us home.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 33-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.