Looking forward, not back

February 10, 2016

I'm a really bad backer-upper.

 

Which is why at 10:40 last Wednesday morning my car was sitting on top of a snow pile in Ruth Joe's front yard, rather than on the nicely shoveled driveway five feet to the left.

(I thought about taking a picture, but decided I didn't want a permanent record of this particular embarrassment.)

 

Being a bad backer-upper fits with me. I'm really not good at things in the past. My husband can remember what date we visited a city 25 years ago. I couldn't remember my old phone number six months after we had moved.

 

I don't know if it's nature or nurture, but for me, when something has passed, it's over and done with and doesn't normally require additional attention from me.

 

I can look at the past and use its lessons to move forward. But I've never understood why people allow themselves to be dragged down by holding onto the negative things of the past.

 

One of my favorite Bible verses is Luke 9:61-62.

 

61 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

It's one of those really difficult passages to try to understand. It's harsh. Simply looking back makes one unfit for the kingdom? Why?

 

I had a farmer explain it: When you start to plow you have to focus on where you want to end up at the other end of the field. The temptation is to look back, to see where you've been. But as soon as you look over your shoulder to the past, you start to pull yourself off that straight path. As long as you keep your eye on where you are going, the path behind you will be true.

 

I think that's why I'm not a good backer-upper. As soon as I look back I lose track of where the path is that I'm supposed to be following.

 

Tonight we will observe Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent, like Advent, is a season of preparation. We can focus on the end point: our redemption through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. And if we keep our focus on that end point, the path we leave behind us will be straight.

 

- Ann Warner

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