Ever had a conversation with a Christian about the past, their “Before Christ” days, and sensed that they still had some leftover desires for those things? When we are called to follow Him, He asks us to let go of this world to own Him and – let’s be honest – that can be difficult! The familiar, even though we know it is not God’s best, wraps around us like a comforter. When things get stormy in life there is the temptation to return to old things, former paths.
The people of God, when they were called out of Egypt to journey to the “Promised Land” set out with great hope. The reality of living in the desert, even with God’s daily provisions, soon got to them and they longed for ‘home.’ (see closing song by Keith Green, “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt.”) “The people soon began to complain to the Lord about their hardships; … the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember all the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted. But now our appetites are gone, and day after day we have nothing to eat but this manna!” (Numbers 11:1-6, NLT) Their complaints brought suffering.
In Genesis, there is the story of Lot’s wife who became a pillar of salt on the plains of Sodom. God’s angels rescued Lot and his family from the city before its destruction, telling them to run for the hills and not to look back. She did and you know the story! The life she knew, though lived among corruption, held her affection and she turned back but her choice brought death.
One of the saddest lines of the New Testament is written by Paul about a ministry colleague named Demas. The old apostle was on death row, writing his last letter to Timothy. Can you feel his emotion in these words? “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” (2 Timothy 4:10, KJV) We do not know the details but it is not too hard to imagine that Demas decided to go home concluding that if following Jesus was going to get you killed, like Paul, he wanted nothing more to do with the Way. The Bible does not tell us if Demas ever found his way back to Jesus.
Are you feeling the tug of the sins of the past?
Has fatigue or disillusionment set in, making those old pleasures attractive once again?
Are you struggling to ‘let go’ of what you know to possess the Promise?
Take a lesson from those referenced passages. The past is a dead-end. You can’t really go back, and would you want to? Our word from the Word tells us how to stay the course.
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. … do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:32-36, NIV)
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3, NIV)
There is joy in the journey when faith inspires hope and we can see the promise that waits.
God, keep us from looking back and help us to keep looking to Jesus.
(Enjoy this song, fun, but with a point!)
So you wanna go back to Egypt
Where it’s warm and secure
Are sorry you bought the one way ticket
When you thought you were sure
You wanted to live in the land of promise
But now it’s getting so hard
Are you sorry you’re out here in the desert
Instead of your own back yard
Eating leaks and onions by the Nile
Ooh what breath for dining out in style
Ooh, my life’s on the skids
Building the pyramids
Well there’s nothing do but travel
And we sure travel a lot
‘Cause it’s hard to keep your feet from moving
When the sand gets so hot
And in the morning it’s manna hotcakes
We snack on manna all day
And we sure had a winner last night for dinner
Flaming manna souffle
Well we once complained for something new to munch
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch
Ooh, such fire and smoke
Can’t God even take a joke? Huh? NO!
So you wanna to back to Egypt
Where your friends wait for you
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang
Of what they said was all true
And this Moses acts like a big shot
Who does he think he is?
Well it’s true that God works lots of miracles
But Moses thinks they’re all his
Oh we’re having so much trouble even now
Why’d he get so mad about that c-c-c-cow (that golded calf)
Moses seems rather idle
He just sits around, he just sits around and writes the Bible!
Oh, Moses, put down your pen!
What? Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles
Fillet of manna
Keith Green – Copyright 1978