“Your future needs you…your past does not.” Saw this quote posted by TobyMac on Facebook recently and it made me smile, thinking about how my car’s rear view mirror is a fraction of the size of my windshield. It’s set up that way because we’re driving forward and we need to see more going forward. And yet, its our past (more accurately, our thinking and rethinking about our past) that holds us back – not only in business but moreover, in our obedience to God’s direction for our business as His vehicle for kingdom impact.
Throughout the Bible, we’re reminded of God’s instructions not to look backward (let’s not even get into Lot’s wife’s demise as she looked back to Sodom – the sense of the language “looked back” is that she “regarded, considered, paid attention to.” Genesis 19:24-26). It’s crystal clear in Isaiah 43:18 – Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. Why? Check out verse 19: I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.
God does want us to succeed. He built us to succeed, to bring glory to Him, so we can show up in the world differently which will draw people to Him. I know from my own life, and other God-centered entrepreneurs, that when we walk in the center of God’s will, He causes things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). It may not always look the way that we want it to look, but the question is, are we following and accepting His will for our life or longing for the past (or letting the past stop our all-in obedience)? How do we stop thinking about my past disappointments and discouragements, so that I can move forward and building the business God has called me to build?
In his Life Principles Bible, Dr. Charles Stanley comments on Isaiah: “God loves to work in our life in new ways. We should not always look for Him to do in us what He has done before, but we should learn to expect the unexpected.” What God has done previously in our life builds our faith, builds our trust, builds our confidence that He never leaves us or forsakes us. And, that’s not the only way that He operates in our life. Isaiah is telling us to stop looking at what things used to be and look ahead because God is doing a new thing! But wait…there’s more! One of my Hustle with Heart coaching clients was recently struggling with this, and together we looked at Philippians 3:12-14 and Paul’s transparency (perhaps today we’d say authenticity?) about his imperfection and his continued progress toward Christ’s purpose. I love this as a bookend to Isaiah!
The bottom line is, God doesn’t want us dwelling on the past – whether that’s repeated celebrating only the past spiritual victories or mourning defeats. We must press on with the mind that there is always more to be learned, submitted, expressed, and experienced in Christ. God wants us to be successful regardless of our outside circumstances, regardless of what we see around us. Our success is directly related to our faith. If we put our faith in God to help us become successful, our foundation is as strong as He is. His commitment is unwavering – and still we must have the courage to be obedient and keeping his commands. He is faithful to complete what He started in us…but we limit Him when we keep looking backward or try to run out ahead of Him. Its about abiding in Him, in lock step with what His will, looking expectantly to the new thing He promises He is doing.