I found that between the end of December and the beginning weeks of January, few of the messages I heard preached almost seemed contradictory. One week the focus was on the value of looking back and remembering past events. The next week, I heard another that was taught in a way that gave the strong conviction that you should never look back, but always look ahead. Of course I appreciate and understand what was being said, but it reminds me that I have to be ever so cautious when presenting certain topics and pulling Bible verses to back it up.
The Bible is not contradictory. It is true that someone can take some passages of scripture and present an argument for something and someone else can take another set of passages of scripture and argue against the same thing. (Sad reality is that people actually do this and can cause others who do not search the scripture for themselves, much confusion.) However, in my opinion one particular passage of scripture clarify the existence of differences that may seem to appear in Biblical dialogue. It’s message is simply this, there is a time for everything.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
So I’ve concluded that there is a time to look back and a time to look ahead.
At times it is good to look back and remember what God has brought you through and remembering what you came out of. There is a time to walk down memory lane and enjoy the sights and scenes of days gone by. Some of the benefits of looking back…
- A means of reminding yourself that God is able to fight your battles. This is one thing that helps me push forward in challenging circumstances.
- A way of recognising the signs that led to past successes or failures. This helps you know what to do or what to avoid in particular situations.
- Recognising when someone is trying to take you down a path you know will lead to destruction.
- Our past can help us plan for a better future. As the cliché says ‘hind site is 20/20 vision’.
- To encourage others who are currently facing what we have faced in the past.
- To simply have an engaging conversation with family or long-lost friends you have finally reconnected with.
- To help explain our point of view.
Even Paul who wrote ‘forgetting those things which are behind’ (Philippians 3:13), recounted his past earlier in that same chapter, as a means of helping the Philippians’ get a clear picture of what he had left behind compared to what he now held as being valuable. In verse 13 he was not trying to tell us that we should blank out our past as the only way to a better future. He however reminds us that those past things, that were not rooted in true devotion to Jesus Christ were nothing compared to the value of knowing Christ and living for Him.
The Bible also teaches us to look ahead and plan. Luke 14:28 reminds us to count the cost of what we set out to do and in order to do that we must take time to look ahead. Some of the benefits of looking ahead…
- Helps you create a clear vision of what you want of your life. As the first half of Proverbs 29:18 reminds us ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’. Having a vision gives hope especially when you are in a rough spot in life.
- Helps you to plan wisely or make necessary adjustments to your life.
- Affects your choices in life.
- You can cover yourself in targeted specific prayer.
- You can determine the people you need to network with and even be aware of those to avoid (e.g. people who would tempt you to waste time or even worst disrupt your priorities and debase your morals).
- It can give you hope and strengthen your endurance. As I typed that I’m reminded of Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. On our journey to eternity there will be trials or temptations that only the blessed hope of a life with Christ will help us push through.
- It allows us better stewards of our time here on earth.
Don’t get Stuck
Life is about finding balance. Again I remind you that there is a time for everything. Don’t get stuck in the past, neither get fixated on the future. Use both entities to keep you relevant for today. Then use today to step forward from your past and make a step in the right direction for your future.
So here’s my suggestion if you are desiring a successful future. Before the month of January ends take about 10 minutes to look back and see if there are any changes you need or want to make in your life and jot them down. Don’t allow yourself to become too emotional or get blindsided by guilt in areas you have already repented of, but simply look for things that needs to be addressed and changes you want to make, then take the next step, pray. Bring them all before the throne of grace, it is open to everyone who believes in Christ and there is help available to set us on the right path to change, even in areas we deem impossible.
Then take a few minutes, I would suggest at least 30 minutes, or even snippets of time through out a week and look forward. Think of what you believe God would have you do or become in one years time, or 5 years time and write it down. If you have no vision or are going through a period of hopelessness then use the time to ask God to give you clear directions for your life. Then take the time and write out your vision.
The next step is to count the cost. What will it take to get you from where you are to where you want to be. What small changes can you make today and in the weeks and month to come. Write them down and pray about them.
Now the fact is, none of the above will change your life unless you add this important key, ACTION. Do what you need to do to see your vision become a reality. Unfortunately, that’s where many of us get stalled. So I encourage you to take action, do what it takes to make a positive difference in your own life. It is your God-given choice and with God’s help you can do it.
God bless you!
Heavenly Father we praise You for a new day and new beginnings, that remind us that time does not stands still. Like the Psalmist declared, ‘teach us to number our days’. Help us live our lives remembering all You have done for us and living for Your glory each day You bless us with. Give us a clear vision of what You would have us do this year, things you want us accomplish and give us the desire and strength to work towards that vision. Thank You for hearing our prayer. In Jesus name, Amen.