Luke 9:61-62 (NLT)
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Have you ever been driving on the Interstate and encounter an accident? Ever notice that right before the unfortunate event and immediately following – there are fender benders? This usually causes a complete standstill along the way. First the primary crash occurs, those approaching do not notice that traffic is slowing or even stopped because they are looking behind them or distracted by something in their vehicle and now they are in a bind. Those who go past the accident are still looking at the carnage and not at the road ahead which is filled with merging and moving traffic – so now they run into someone else. In the South, we call this rubbernecking. But in the Bible, it calls us “not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Oh I know this sounds harsh, but please hear me out. I heard a testimony of a sweet woman who just so happens to be a family member after attending a church camp with her youth group that she oversees. This camp was not for adults but let’s face it God does not discriminate and will bless anyone who will come into His Presence and speak to anyone who dares to listen for His Voice. As family, I know the last year of her life as she does mine. The Lord told her that her time of mourning was over. In a very short time, she lost her mother and her father. She cared for her father relentlessly and tirelessly until the very end. His illness continued for months requiring round-the-clock care. If you have ever been the caregiver of a loved one, then you know the toll that this takes. It has been a year since his passing but what she never realized was the depth of her mourning. That is, until the Lord revealed it to her and took it from her filling her with more of His Love in that moment. I can totally relate to her. I have heard the Lord speak this to my own heart very recently and her sharing gave me perspective.
When we are fighting for our faith in this battle called life – we can get turned around. We approach it and go through it. On the other side, it is human nature to keep our eyes on it. The enemy wants us to keep looking back. He was to lock us in the fear, pain and hurt of our past because if he can trick us into staying in such a position – we will miss the purpose and potential of our life even though it is not intentional. Grief and mourning are a part of life whether we actually lose someone we love or it is when life just doesn’t turn out like we expected. There is purpose in every situation of our life but we must strive never to remain in that moment but move on with His Glory.
Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)
To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
What got you turned around? Three years of fighting cancer with our son and then a year of holding my breath to see if remission was real changed my perspective. My faith was intact but my focus somehow got turned around. The Lord has ever so lovingly and gently but oh so firmly placed His Hands on my face and turned me back to Him. God knows our hurts. He wants to heal them. He catches our tears in a bottle carefully recording our sorrows. (Psalm 56:8) The Lord promises in Revelation 21:4 that when He returns that there will be no more suffering, pain, sorrow or tears. He gives us beauty for the ashes of sacrifice. He gives us a joyous blessing in the midst of our pain. He produces praise from within us when we have no words to speak. In all of it, God is securing our righteousness with each bit of faith we muster to say, “I trust you!” There is purpose and meaning in our journey through life even in the darkest valleys – God is producing a “refreshing spring” and in the midst of the storm, the rain carries “joyous blessings” as He makes us stronger and stronger along the way. (Psalm 84:6-7) Sin causes suffering, sickness and disease. But God has promised that He will make good of every detail in our life. (Romans 8:28) He promises to turn our mourning into dancing and clothe us in joy! (Psalm 30:11) There is purpose in what you are going through today. There is meaning in this process of exchanging all that we are to have all that He is. These troubles and trials are momentary. We must remember that.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT)
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
This life is temporary. What you are going through is momentary! It won’t last forever. Faith, hope and love are the only things that are eternal. (I Corinthians 13:13) The things that we go through they seem so enormous and everlasting are not. They will end. Those who remain faithful will experience the Glory of God as He pours more of His Goodness into their life. Those who endure to the end (faith intact) will be saved. Each trouble is nothing more than a tug-o-war match with the enemy for every blessing that God has in store for us. The Lord would not have allowed him to test you in such a way if you were not up to the fight. We must fix our eyes on what cannot be seen and hold tight to the reality that is confident hope. It was this about this time a few years back that the doctors “decided” we had entered the “Realm of Hope”. I laughed when she said it, so glad that we had finally made it. The place where the impossible becomes possible as there is no reasonable explanation other than miraculous. I know they think I had lost my mind and maybe in that moment I had a little. I was so wrapped up in the Lord that I could not see the veiled threat of death in her discussion only the possibility of life. So I wonder how I got turned around in the midst of such resounding faith in God, it can happen to anyone. When life doesn’t turn out how we expected and we are thrust from our comfort zone to the great unknown.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)
But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
God is always doing something new in our life to move us from the present into the full potential of faith fulfilled in the future. We must keep moving and stop looking at that which is to the left or right. As we keep moving, if we do not look ahead to the new things that the Lord is doing we will get caught up in the past. The Lord is reminding us to forget the past and step into the future today. Let go of mourning, regret, and sadness to take hold of the Goodness and Glory in that lies ahead. If you planted seeds of righteousness along the way and watered them with tears, the harvest is in the future.
Isaiah 48:6-8 (NLT)
You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’ “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.”
God has secret things that He wants to share with you. There are new things that He desires to do in you and through you. This is not a message for those who have not made a commitment to Christ or have a desire to serve Him. This is a shout out to all the wounded warriors who are still looking back at what just happened. Those who are trying to make sense of it all. Those who are trying to find that “normal” life that is lost in the wreckage. Those who don’t know if they have the strength for the next battle. Those who want to see the enemy coming this time trying to eliminate the element of surprise. God is telling “us” to just turnaround. I am doing this new thing. I am making good on all my promises and fulfilling your heart’s desire. You won the good fight of faith making it over the mountain and through the valley. Not by might or power but by My Spirit. God is telling us today that there is more to life than this if you will just focus on ME today instead for the carnage and collateral damage of yesterday’s fight. I am making all things new says the Lord. I am doing new things that are too extraordinary for you to even think to ask for! Will you just forget the past and look at ME, again!
Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
It’s a brand new day. A step in the right direction. When I woke up this morning, new mercy was at my disposal. I have utilized it asking the Lord to forgive me for getting turned around. Thank you Lord for righting my way…again. As believers, we will never reach perfection. It is impossible. We were tainted from the start. What we reach for is Jesus as we look to God to show us what He has in store for us. The world is full of distractions and the enemy will use every single one that he can to steal, kill or destroy us. But those who strive to keep their eyes on Jesus will have a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Don’t beat yourself up if you just realized you are all turned around. I say, “Welcome to the club!” What you do from this point on is what counts? Can you, will you, or how will you turn yourself around? We do so by “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us!”
Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT)
Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.