In yesterday’s reading, we learned about the crucial part our end vision plays during our endurance journeys here on earth. The opposite is equally true. Nothing kills endurance like looking back.

The problem with looking back is that our memories are not always accurate. In the case of the Israelites, Egypt looked less and less terrible as their endurance was tested more each day. They were only a month into their journey when they started longing for Egypt. “‘If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,’ they moaned.’There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death’” (Exodus 16:3, NLT). Thank goodness they didn’t know it would go on for another forty years!

I believe that human nature was intended to work this way. We forget the bad and bear forward to the future. Otherwise, no woman would have more than one child! And in Luke 9, Jesus takes the point even further by saying that the Kingdom of God depends on this human phenomenon. “But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God’” (v.9, NLT). God knows that our inaccurate memories can kill endurance if we pause to look back. Elisha, the prophet who performed the greatest amount of miracles, understood this concept all too well.

When Elisha was called by God to succeed Elijah, he knew that it would get hard at some point. He knew that he could not entertain any possibilities to look back. So he took drastic measures and burned everything that could tempt him in the future. “So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant” (1 Kings 19:21, NLT).

Is there a time in your past that you would like to return to? Do you sometimes feel that you should have stayed where you were instead of changing the status quo? What can you do to cut ties with the past completely?

Let us “burn” any reminders of the past that tempt us to look back. And let us follow Jesus wholeheartedly into the future. Let us build endurance by reminding ourselves daily of Paul’s words from Philippians 3. “‘No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us’” (v. 13-14, NLT

Scripture readings:

Exodus 16:1-8

Luke 9:57-62

1 Kings 19:19-21

Philippians 3:12-14