What Lies Behind.
Do you ever experience those times, you know the kind that make you think about where you have come from? Do you sometimes wonder what things would have been like if you remained where you were, especially when the landscape ahead of you is losing shape or has no shape at all? I go through those moments at times. I get all nostalgic for what was and all insecure in where I am and long for that bit of familiarity. In my mind I plot things that can maybe create a newer, fresher version of what I was doing before. Surely there would be nothing wrong in trying again, surely there would be people around who would love to be a part of something more akin to what the people of God should be doing. Missing the rhythm of life and the support of connectivity on a more regular basis. After all there are so many buried prophetic words and promises spoken about that sort of stuff over my life. Maybe I am standing here because of unhealed wounds and I just need to swallow that pride and find healing in another community. That path that lies behind can be like a magnet at times pulling on the heart and the mind. Regularly I find myself looking back over my shoulder. Compared to another footprint in the desert sands the cosmopolitan life of the city of Egypt looks quite attractive (and prayers ring out to Egypt even as I write). I know I became a slave to some things but surely that is all a part of being a slave to Christ. The cost of the call. The margins can be places where exhaustion and isolation eat away. So much standing in the land, very little in the way of fruit or variety or flowing rivers. The call of the mild seems like a secure place to be for my family and my future hopes and plans. I’ll just take another glance.
The Bible is not very positive about people like me who look back. “Forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.” “Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.” “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Looks like I’m not really a very good advert for the all out pioneer and adventurer. My gaze may be causing me to miss the path and the plan ahead. But I am who I am. And He is even more the I am who is I am. He knows me. He knows my form. He knows my distracted gaze. He understands my insecurities, doubts, fears, longings. He knows that my heart intentions are good, I just want to live for Him. I know in a way that is wrong because we are called to live in Him, but He knows the make up of my life. I just want to share this walk with others. I think He gives the grace to gaze. He gives the grace to ponder. He gives the grace for us to work out our own salvation. Maybe no path is wrong at this point in the venture anyway. If any party wants to write me out that is fine, it is as if God just embraces this pillar of salt and speaks purity of life and walk. I know where I came from does not have the answers any more than this place of wilderness, but it is the comfort zone. I know I am not made for this place of comfort so why do I keep looking longingly? Is there something or someone there that needs embracing or learning? Something in the wells of the Fathers that needs to be uncovered for a new spring to gush forth? Only God may ever know.
But then there is the glimpse. The cloud that may be the size of a pea in the sky. My eyes catch something in the new landscape. My ears hear a whisper. My skin feels the gentlest of breezes. Nothing too tangible and yet enough. As I look 360 degrees, behind where I have come from, ahead into the mist, around me where I am right now, there is just a sense. Where I am right now is where God wants me to be. The source of what satisfies has changed to the original source, it is Him alone. The one that gives life even when there are no rivers or streams. The one who feeds even when there is no source of food. The one who fellowships even when there are no people. It is not for me to compare the two landscapes because they are completely different. They will never look the same, taste the same, sound the same. What was defined in one way in one landscape will be redefined for the new. Comparing will only bring unnecessary pain and unease. The days of the fire, earthquake and wind maybe dying down, this is the season of the whisper. Enough to change my gaze again to look around me and forward, to find the One walking on the water. I look to what lies ahead. What do I see? It is barely visible but it is there. A fresh hope. A new day. A longing for His path. This pillar of salt may just have use after all. This person who is not fit for the kingdom of God is created afresh to fit a new kingdom coming and that now has come. I may not forget what lies behind but I remember the glimpse that will keep me going another day. Forward into destiny, whatever that may mean or be now. Will it stop me looking over my shoulder? Maybe not. There will always be moments. I am but human. But God’ whisper will keep winning my heart.