“Let us go on to perfection . . .” (Hebrews 6:1).
WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE SUCH A HARD TIME REACHING FORWARD? Why do we insist on looking backward so often when the future is beckoning us to things that are so much better?
Laziness. The pull of “inertia” often keeps us from doing what we ought to do. It takes extra effort to press toward a goal that is in the future, and many people are just not willing to make that effort. They are content to stay where they are and do nothing more than leaf through the scrapbook pages of their past. Whatever vision of the future they may have, it is not a powerful enough vision to move them forward. It’s just too much work.
Grief at what we’ve lost. At other times, there is some loss we have suffered, and our grief keeps us focused, at least temporarily, on what we had in the past but no longer have. Grief is not sinful, at least it need not be, and during times of grief we need to be patient both with ourselves and others. But by its very nature, grief is past-oriented rather than future-oriented, and so we need to be careful not to let it become our permanent perspective.
Fear of the future. One way the past and the future are different is that the past is certain but the future is uncertain. While the past is already an accomplished creation, the future is yet to be created, and there is no guarantee that we will not fail in some of our efforts to create it. We recognize that we depend upon God’s help in all things, but He still requires us to do our part, and that can be frightening. So we just play it safe and avoid the risk of discouragement, secure within the comfort zone of past accomplishment.
Whatever the reasons for our fixation on the past may be, we need to work on overcoming them. The Hebrew writer said, “Let us go on to perfection.” At times, we may need some help in seeing the importance of that effort. We may need to have our focus adjusted by pain or difficulty. Or we may need friends who will pull us out of the past. Indeed, we have no better friends than those who will turn us around and make us face in a forward direction. If you have such a future-oriented friend, you should be thankful.
“I want to do away with everything behind man, so that there is nothing to see when he looks back. I want to take him by the scruff of the neck and turn his face toward the future!” (Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev).