Memories—they can be both a blessing and a curse. There are the wonderful kind like walking down the aisle at your wedding … and the not-so-wonderful kind where you lost a job. Human nature is to think upon the good memories with a smile, but that doesn’t mean we completely forget the bad memories, either. They’re stuck in the depths of our brains—and, if you’re like me, they pop up from time to time when you least want them around.
It isn’t easy to let go of the former things or to stop considering things of old—they are a part of us, after all. But things can become dangerous when our past becomes larger than life, causing us to miss what is right in front of us.
Isaiah said, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old,” (Isaiah 43:18) to a group of exiled people who could only remember their past. God had a different plan for them, however. He encourages them and says, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?” (Isaiah 43:19)
I recently read an analogy that articulates this sentiment perfectly: The majority of us drive a car—and the most important direction to look is forward through the windshield. The large windshield provides an open view of where we are going. While we often need to look in the rearview mirror to see where we’ve been, we need to realize that it’s quite small in comparison to the size of the windshield. What happens if you drive forward but choose to only look in the rearview mirror? Well, you crash.
It may sound extreme, but God doesn’t want us to live in the past. He used many examples of this throughout scripture—my favorite being Lot’s wife. Instead of looking forward and clinging to God’s promises, she chose to look back at what she was leaving behind (her home, her material things) … and we know what happened to her because of it. She missed out on all the blessings He had in store for her because she was too consumed, fixated, and glued to her previous life.
The caveat to this notion of abandoning the rearview mirror is that we often use past answered prayers from the Lord as faith-builders for our future. That’s a good thing. He wants us to do that. In fact, when we glance (emphasis on glance) in the rearview mirror, it’s His face we often see smiling back at us and waving as we pull out of the driveway or sit in traffic. Those are positive-reinforcement memories that we can cling to—and those help us to turn our gaze towards the present. If He answered our prayer once, then He certainly can (and will!) again.
The Lord has so much to offer us, and He patiently sits upon His throne until we’re ready to fix our eyes upon Him. He wants us to stop rehearsing past situations and trials in our minds over and over. He wants to do new things in us, for us, and around us. Isn’t that exciting?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.