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“Don’t dwell on the past!” How often do we hear that in our own lives? Do you often find yourself living in the past? Getting over the past, getting over past hurts, can be so difficult. Letting go sometimes seems more difficult than the pain of dwelling on the past and what once was.
There was once a group of weary travelers who also had trouble letting go of the past!
Dwelling on the Past – The Children of Israel
In Exodus 16 we read the account of Moses and the children of Israel entering the wilderness after they had been out of Egypt for approximately 2 months.
We read in Exodus 16:2
“Then the WHOLE congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” NKJV (Emphasis mine)
Then they said to Moses and Aaron in verse 3
“And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!
For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:3 NJKV
Ok I get it! I have been hangry a time or two so I can only imagine how they must have felt after trekking through the wilderness without food. But let’s have a good look at this.
They had been slaves. They were mistreated, beaten, forced to work hard labor with little food and little rest. Their own children were also slaves and forced to work.
This was a BAD situation they had been freed from. And yet, because they were experiencing hardship in the NOW, they forgot what life had been like in Egypt and somehow felt it would be better to have DIED there then go through the hunger they were experiencing now.
They let their fear get the best of them!
Dwelling on the Past – Does This Story Sound Familiar?
We sometimes do the same thing, albeit our circumstances aren’t usually quite as bad as being former slaves trekking through the desert for 2 months while feeling like you are starving.
But we often have situations we have left behind us that, as soon as things get tough, we look back at and long for it.
Maybe it was a relationship that was abusive.
Maybe it was a boss that made your life miserable.
Maybe it was even a life of sin.
Yes, sometimes we even look longingly back at our life before salvation and wonder if we hadn’t been better off! After all, the enemy left us alone then! We didn’t go through spiritual attacks. We focus on our feelings at the moment rather than long-term gain!
Blinded by Time and Distance
Time and distance can sometimes blind us to how bad things were for us before. How bad that boss was. How damaging that relationship was. How we were lost to sin.
We focus on the hardships we have now! In THIS moment!
We murmur and complain like the children of Israel did.
The things we pray for, we all of a sudden despise because receiving them came with discomfort!
Dwelling on the Past – What is your Egypt?
What is that thing in your life you keep looking back at? Is there something that keeps you dwelling on the past?
What is that thing you sometimes long for when things get tough?
Find it and then sink that ship!! Don’t look back!
Sink the Ships
Hernan Cortes, so the story goes, brought his men on shore to fight a battle they could very well lose. He knew the risk. He knew the ships were there on shore and if the battle got tough the men could flee. He wanted them committed. It was fight or die but fleeing was not going to be an option.
So he sunk the ships. Some accounts say he burned them but it seems as though sinking them was the most likely account. Either way, they were there to stay.
When the enemy rears his ugly head and life gets tough, sink the ships.
When that job makes you wonder if you hadn’t been better off at your old one, sink the ships.
When you wonder if the pain and hurt from that relationship was better than being alone, sink the ships.
Don’t look back to your Egypt. Stop dwelling on the past! Don’t LIVE there! Don’t murmur or complain but keep moving forward. Focus on the present!
The murmuring and complaining kept the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years when it was a trip that should have taken just weeks.
Don’t keep walking around that mountain when you could be moving forward to your promised land. Trust God with your destination!
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.