Confronting our past is difficult, and often looking back can actually be counterproductive if not done correctly, so I wanted to share some tips from my own personal experience.
1) Don’t look back with longing.
When we start to say, “It was better back when…” we are wishing for the past. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back, and the result was that two nations, that were later hostile to the children of Israel, were born. If she had been alive, she would have been able to fulfill her destiny as Lot’s wife and her daughters would not have sinned. Her decision to look back with longing robbed her of what God was wanting to do in their future.
2) Don’t set up camp in the past.
Sometimes when we begin to look back, we begin to say, “If only,” and dwell on what might, could, should, or would have been if only we had acted differently. This can lead to a serious case of depression and immobilize us as we seek to move forward into what the LORD has for us. If we’re not moving, we’re stagnant and death sets in – Satan gets his way because we have become ineffective for the Lord. There is absolutely nothing we can do to change the past. Jesus said that no man setting his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom. Why? Because God is constantly doing something new. Paul said to forget those things in the past and press on to the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The destiny God has for you is lofty and can only be attained through pressing onward.
Sometimes offenses can come upon us as a result of looking back, whether we’re looking back 20 years or 2 days. Sometimes they’re old offenses, sometimes they’re new. The enemy whispers a lie to us about a situation, about a comment made, about a person, and we allow it to fester in our spirits. If we allow it to fester, we become bitter individuals, believing ourselves to be unloved, unappreciated, unaccepted. THIS IS CONTRARY TO SCRIPTURE! Jesus said that it wasn’t if offenses came, but rather when offenses came – so offenses are inevitable, but the key is to deal with them properly. What does this mean? It is to lay them at the foot of the cross, give our hurt over to Him, and allow His forgiveness and peace to rule and reign in our hearts. Is this easy? I’ll be the first to admit to an emphatic “NO,” but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If someone has hurt or wronged you, the Bible says we’re to leave our gift at the altar and go make things right. God is more concerned about your relationships with people than He is with your offerings or gifts. Think about that for a moment. That’s the value God places on others, and that’s the value He places on you. That should tell you how much He loves you!
3) Do confront the past with the expectation of being empowered to forgive and let go!
God’s desire isn’t for you to rehash everything you lived through ad infinitum. It was difficult enough the first time around, why walk through it a second time? Because the first time you were blind-sided. Most often the most painful things in our lives weren’t those things we were expecting, it was what we weren’t. This time around you have a God who is with you, enabling and empowering you to let it go and leave it behind so you can discover the destiny He has and walk in it. You may say, “That’s too hard,” but that is only in your own strength. God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness. If you’ll step out in faith with the expectation of forgiving, God will see to it, and though it may take a while, you will find that the Holy Spirit has given you more grace and power than you ever thought possible.
4) Do celebrate the times that you see God was protecting you or a loved one.
Sometimes when we are facing an unexpected situation, we don’t see the evidence of the grace and goodness of God. As you look back, look for clues and indications of God’s graciousness. Maybe He didn’t deliver you from the storm, maybe He didn’t rebuke the storm, but if you’re here now, God did deliver you through the storm and that is a reason to celebrate His goodness and give Him glory. Now He’s wanting any remains and remnants of the storm in you to be calmed.
If there’s one quick thought I can leave with you, it is that your past is not your present and it certainly isn’t your future. God loves you! Don’t allow the enemy to steal the gift of a future and a hope away from you.