Thursday, February 3, 2011

Look Ahead

I've noticed lately how frequently I'm having to tell our son to keep his eyes on the road ahead of him while he rides his bike. Ironically, I have to look back over my own shoulder to give him these infallible instructions but irony isn't the point of today's entry.  The point is this - we need to stop looking back at where we were unless it's to measure how far we've come.  Other than that, our eyes should be fixed steadily on the path ahead.  If tomorrow you decide to take down your rear view mirrors in an effort to not look at what lies behind, please don't blame me if you have an accident.  I'm in no way saying that we should stop looking in all directions when we're driving, biking, or doing anything else.  Instead, I'm saying that we should live in the present and for what lies ahead rather than for what lies in our past - a common perspective on life actually.  Well, it was shortly after I instructed my son to stop looking behind him that I realized I needed to follow my own advice, but in a different way...
 As I watched him ride the last two days, he continued to look behind him, which made his entire body wobble to and fro.  "Stop looking behind you, Ashton.  You need to watch where you're going," I quickly corrected him.  Immediately, he re-directed his focus to the road in front of him and his body became steady once again.  As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I thought about them in a bigger picture.  Instantly, I was taken back to a time when I didn't know God, didn't care to know God, and didn't think deeper than where my next paycheck would take me. There was fun to be had and I didn't want to miss out.  It's not that I was some evil villain;  I was just extremely selfish.  I was more concerned about "hanging out" (whatever that means) than I was about spending quality time with my own son.  The list goes on concerning the ways in which I was selfish, but I'm truly not interested in painting that picture.  What interests me more is how moved I was on the afternoon I told Ashton to look ahead of him as he rode his bike, and then how quickly I began to my reminisce about my life before God later that same night. 

As I was getting ready for bed a few nights ago, I decided to stay up just a few more minutes and see what was on TV.  I went to the living room and sat down with Sam.  The movie "What Happens In Vegas" was on and it happened to be very near the beginning.  I have never seen the movie from start to finish, but I had seen the part that was on and knew it was funny.  As Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher acted out the drunken scene in Vegas where they unknowingly got married, I smiled a knowing smile.  I remembered living life that way once (not drunken marriages in Vegas, just the wild lifestyle of partying).  I quickly realized the enemy was setting me up to start missing my old way of life, my old habits, and my old patterns and I stopped watching.  I realized that I was looking back, and not to scare anyone but God did in fact turn a woman into a pillar of salt for looking back at what she was leaving behind (though that is true, I use it as humor - I'm not saying anyone today will turn into a pillar of salt). Well, as I watched the movie, I was looking back into a time in my life before I allowed God full access and I was remembering the "fun" I had when I used to drink heavily.  Well, as it turns out - that "fun" I had cost me precious minutes with my son, delivered excruciating hangovers, and resulted in a total loss of mental control in the form of anxiety and panic attacks.  Lot of fun, right? 

After I stopped watching and sat in bed, I finally realized the significance of the words I was saying to my son while he rode his bike.  "Stop looking behind you, Ashton or else you'll crash," I once said to him earlier in the afternoon.  How appropriate that God gave me those particular words at that particular time.  It was only hours later when I remembered them and knew they applied not only to him as he rode his bike, but also to me as I walk through life.  They apply to all of us.  If we're constantly looking back over our shoulder at how things used to be, we're going to wind up crashing into something on our unexamined path towards the future.  Worse yet, we may actually miss what could be the most beautiful journey ever.

I can honestly say that I have more fun with God than I ever had with a beer, glass of wine, or mixed drink.  Instead of hangovers and panic attacks, I now have an almost silly joy on the inside of me. It's a joy that only God can offer, and though I've had my moments where I've looked back, I know that there's no greater reward than looking ahead.  I'm not saying we shouldn't store memories or look at them from time to time, but if you're going through a divorce, don't look back at how it used to be.  Was it really always so good that you're now getting a divorce?  If you abused drugs in the past, don't look back at how much fun you had while you were high.  Was it really so fun when you watched someone close to you die from an overdose?  If you used to be verbally abusive to your spouse, don't look back to when you had all the control.  Was it really so fulfilling when you saw your partner cry?  Looking back wont bring you satisfaction.  Be happy with where you are right now and keep looking ahead.  Don't watch where you've been; watch where you're going.  You have an amazing future that awaits you!

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