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Going Forward, Looking Back
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By Darlene Turner

Luke thrashed about trying to wake from his dream stupor. His chest was heavy like a loaded barbell thrust upon him, making it almost impossible to breathe. What is that noise?

Luke bolted upright in his bed. Smoke filled his lungs and he gasped for air. Flames danced before his clouded eyes. The fire alarm pierced the night. He turned to wake his wife and found an empty bed.

"Honey, where are you?" His words lost in the dense smoke.

Stumbling out of bed, Luke crawled to the door and out into the hallway, heeding the warning his mother drilled into him. "Stay low in case of fire. Smoke rises."

Flames erupted around him, singeing the hairs on his arms. He called out again.

"Help," she said.

He turned in the direction of her voice, but couldn't find her. "Where are you?"

"Over here." Flames lit the hall, illuminating the staircase. Her fingers gripped one of the wooden spindles. The railing had given away and she held to the one remaining lifeline.

"Hold on," Luke said, grabbing her hand. "Hang on tight and don't look down." He knew her fear of heights would paralyze her if she did.

She turned her head.

"Don't!"

Too late. Her fingers slipped. Her scream deafening the night.

Lot's wife couldn't help herself. Her town was on fire, she was fleeing to safety, but she had to turn around and look back even when warned against it. What could it hurt?

She paid the cost with her life.

Do we get stuck in the past? Perhaps we've made bad decisions that have cost us (or others close to us) big time. Or we've said something to a loved one that we regret. Or maybe our spouse has left the marriage and the hurt has us locked in its vice grip.

Any of these sound familiar? What can we learn from Lot's wife?

Obey directions. Lot and his family were told to flee and not look back. Why did she have to sneak a peek? Same reason a child has to test a hot burner. It's human nature. When we're told not to do something we just have to try it! Sometimes disobedience can have catastrophic repercussions. Lot's wife turned to a pillar of salt. What will it take for us to just obey? Let’s remember that the next time we head down the wrong path.

Keep focused. Sodom and Gomorrah was under fire. I'm sure everyone was screaming, running in circles. Lot's wife lost her focus and turned back to see what has happening. Are there times when we're so busy that we lose our focus? Maybe we forget the real reason for taking on a certain project. Or we give a little piece of ourselves to too much and do a haphazard job. How about we focus on one or two things and keep our eyes ahead?

Let go. Lot's wife couldn't let go of the past. A lot had happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. It was time for them to get out and move on. Have we allowed our hurt to turn into bitterness? Do we hold on to it so others would feel sorry for us? Do we continually ask why? Unfortunately, I'm sure we would have to admit to being guilty of this from time to time. I've once heard it said, "Never put a question mark where God has put a period." I love this. It's time to move on and let go. Period.

However in saying all of the above, is looking back always bad?

No, not if we're looking back so we can move forward.

We learn from our mistakes and see a clearer perspective of how God has directed our path at the times when we groped in the dark. When we're in the middle of difficulties, we can’t see or think straight. We go around in circles, losing our focus. When God has brought us through, we can look back and learn from our experiences. It gives us a better perspective and makes us stronger. This is the best time to look back.

Starting a new year is also a good time to ponder over the previous 12 months and decide whether or not we're going to grow from everything that happened. I'm not talking about making new year's resolutions. Personally, I think they're useless because we don't keep them! I'm referring to making goals of how we're going to grow more in the next 12 months. How we can be better spouses, family members, friends, workers, etc.

In order to do that, I need to look back. For me, 2013 was a challenging year. Full of ups and downs with stresses around every corner. Don't get me wrong...it wasn't all bad. However, I want to learn from all of it—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So in 2014, I want to refocus on my faith and go deeper, refocus on my family, refocus on my writing and tole painting. It helps to turn around and see what I can learn from the past. I just can't get stuck there.

When we move ahead we have to look back, trusting God knows best.

Psalm 25:1 (NIV)

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

Darlene Turner Lives in London with her Husband Jeff. She recently fulfilled a dream of writing her first book. It's a contemporary gothic novel, Amber Dreams which she is now working at getting it published. Meet Darlene at darlenelturner.com