I’m sure you’ve encountered one. You may even be one. They lurk in grocery stores and super stores, anywhere there are aisles and shelves and shopping carts. They are plentiful and they can be very dangerous.

I’m talking about the “back lookers.” Those shoppers who continue to push their carts forward while looking over their shoulder at items on the shelf behind them.

“Should I have gotten the larger size?”

“I was sure the canned milk was on this row.”

“I wonder what that tastes like.”

These thoughts and more run through their minds. They look behind them and think about things passed when they should be looking ahead.

The danger? Of course running into another shopper tops the list of possibilities. They might also miss the deal of the day or that one ingredient they can’t make dinner without.  The back looker would do far better if she focused her attention on where she’s going and not on where she’s been.

run race, Philippians 3Hmm. “Back lookers” aren’t just a problem at Wal Mart. They’re plentiful in life too. In fact, Paul addressed the issue of “back looking” in his letter to the Christians in Philippi.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14, NIV

Paul had not yet become everything Christ wanted him to be. He had not yet reached full spiritual maturity. But he had learned to not dwell on past failings and missed opportunities. Instead, he kept pushing forward, looking ahead to what God had in store for him. Paul lived forward. He was a “forward looker.”

The past can keep us from the future God has for us. Looking back accomplishes nothing. It only produces guilt, regret, bitterness, and the like.

Here are a few tips to foster a forward-looking attitude:

  1. Deal with the past – Sometimes we can’t move ahead because something in the past genuinely needs our attention. Perhaps we need to confess a sin or ask someone for forgiveness. These things are not easy, but they must be done to move forward.
  2. Let go of things you can’t change – All of us have things in our past we regret. It may have happened to us or we may have caused it, but no amount of rehashing will change it. Tell God how you feel about it and ask Him to help you release it once and for all.
  3. Set a course for the future – God has plans for you! He has Kingdom work for you now and an eternal inheritance waiting in heaven. God’s plans are fulfilling and exciting. Don’t miss out on any of it by looking back. Take His hand, follow His leading, and move ahead full steam!

Have you been a back-looker? In what way? What do you need to do today to live forward?


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