It’s hard to move forward when we are looking backward. Psychologists tell us that one of the main causes of stress in our lives is when we try to undo or redo something from our past. For the most part, we don’t get a do-over. WE must move forward. There are two pieces of glass in our cars that are directly in front of us. One is a large piece called a windshield. The other is a small piece called a rear view mirror. There is a message in the size of those glass pieces. There is a clear reason why the windshield is larger: moving forward is more important than looking backward. Now this is not to say we can’t or shouldn’t learn from the past. We certainly should. BUT WE CAN’T LIVE THERE! We will be an accident waiting to happen if we are flying down the highway glaring into what is behind us. (Ladies putting on their makeup as they travel late to work notwithstanding!)
It was time for Nehemiah to move forward. The past was the past. The damage had been done. The walls of Jerusalem had been decimated by the force of the Babylonian army. Their king now sat before Nehemiah, waiting to hear the request to be made. Nehemiah did not demand restitution for what had been done to his beloved, home city. He did not want the soldiers who did this marched out and punished. He pushed forward. He moved ahead. He didn’t look back.
So many of us get stuck in reverse. We nurse long-held grudges against the person who “tore down our walls.” We long for revenge, smacking our lips over the feast of vengeance served hot, not realizing the feast we are anticipating is really our own flesh and blood. As I watch the protesters and demonstrators crying for vengeance in a vain effort to feel justice done, I wonder how productive we could really be if we just refused to look back and look forward instead?
How many opportunities has God graciously laid before us that we have squandered by refusing to look forward? If our eyes are fixed on a past that we cannot change, we will never seize the opportunities to bring needed change and a new beginning. Maybe the walls in your life are broken right now. Someone… some person, some entity… has “broken down your walls” and now, like the people of Israel, you are “in great distress and turmoil.” In other words, your problems are somebody else’s fault! You can focus your energy and attention on getting even… or you can focus your eyes before you… “turn your eyes upon Jesus….”
…And begin to get better.
FOR MEDITATION: And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and IF your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:7
FOR REFLECTION: Where have the walls been broken down in your world? What needs to be repaired? The reality of your circumstance is that dwelling on past injuries and bitterness will not get the walls repaired. Focus forward. Look into the future God wants you to enjoy. And then, by faith, go there.