My favorite analogy for Christians who let the past dominate them is the rearview mirror in a car. You can’t drive while looking behind you all the time; you’re going to hit another car, run over the curb or get in some kind of mess. You need to look through another piece of glass if you’re going to drive successfully, it’s called the windshield. The reason our cars’ rearview mirrors are small while the windshields are very large is you need to quickly glance behind you on occasion, but you need to focus ahead of you on where you’re going, otherwise you will get entangled in a traffic problem of your own making.
The third thing is toys, by that I mean the fun and games of life; too much TV, too much golf, or too much energy on a hobby. These things are not wrong in themselves, but when they keep us from our Bible reading and off our knees, those things become sin. The failure to trust Jesus, trust Him, is at the root of every failure.
It’s like the college student who went to wash his clothes and tied all his clothes up in a sheet. He put the whole ball in the washing machine without untying the sheet and separating the clothes. So when he was done, all he had was a big ball of wet, dirty clothes because they were all bound up in the sheet.
Everything that is wrong in our life is wrapped in the fact that we didn’t trust the Lord. We need to trust Him.
Do you remember those punching bags that bounce back up when you hit them? I think I got one for Christmas one year as a kid. No matter how hard I hit it, even if I knock it all the way to the floor, that thing would always bounce back up, ready for the next blow. If I hit it 100 times, it bounced back up 100 times. Even if I knocked it across the room, it always came back. The secret to the punching bag’s resilience, of course, was the weight in the bottom of the inflated balloon. The weight stabilized and controlled the bag, no matter what kind of blows landed against it. That child’s punching bag is a good parable of life.
Reality hits hard sometimes; family problems can knock us to the floor, financial woes stagger us and we lean hard to one side, discouragement comes along and knocks us halfway across the room. These things happen to everyone, Christians included. The difference between the believer who bounces back up after a blow and the one who stays flat on floor is not that one person is smarter, stronger, or richer than the other. And it’s certainly not that God favors the “bounce back” Christian over the flattened Christian. He loves all of his children equally. Jesus Christ is the only person strong enough and heavy enough to anchor your life. The difference between a Christian who is held down by everything and a Christian who is not held down by anything is the answer to a simple question. I’m going to ask this question and we can all answer it ourselves: How fully are we trusting Jesus? Our focus is all important.
Hebrews 12:1, “Let us also lay aside the very encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run, with endurance, the race that is set before us.” The writer uses a metaphor here. No runner competes in the race with heavy weights tied around his ankles or with a heavy warmup suit on. They carry no more weight than necessary.
One of the weights we carry around is being negative and defeatist about everything, as well as people who drag on us and discourage us. We need to help people who have problems, but we need to watch ourselves so we don’t let them influence us.
Another thing that entangles us and holds us back is our past. The problem is we all have one, and the enemy knows where to find the stuff we buried and discarded yesterday. I’m not talking about things we try to hide, I’m referring to choices we made that we wish we hadn’t, or words said we wish we hadn’t. The past can entangle us. We can spend so much time looking back at yesterday and regretting past mistakes that we become paralyzed today and unable to move on tomorrow.
Never mind the past mistakes or our own limitations. Just look to Jesus Christ, keep our eyes on Him and we will make it.
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