June 9, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me. - Psalm 40:11-12 NKJV.
Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. - Luke 17:32-33.
But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. - Genesis 19:26.
I can remember doing basketball drills and having to run backward, I never enjoyed that! But can you imagine having to always walk backward while often looking over your shoulder to see where you are going? That is what Mani Manithan of Tamil Nadu state in India has been doing for…25 years! I have to say it, that is just crazy! However, according to Mani, it is all for a good purpose. Some people pray for world peace, Mani walks backward for world peace. It all began in 1989, when there were many violent acts which took place that year in India. Mani says, “On the international level, terrorism has increased, so many blasts are happening, the youth are misguided. To condemn such incidents I have been walking backward for 25 years. My only agenda is world peace.” He has perfected the art of looking over his shoulder while walking backward and has been walking backward for so long that he says, “Walking normally is more of a challenge, my mind has forgotten how to do it. I have become very comfortable walking like this.” (Caters News 06.09.14)
There are some ways of looking backward in our lives, and of going spiritually backward. We remember the story of Lot’s wife. Lot and his family were living in Sodom and Gomorrah but because of the wickedness of the place God destroyed it. However, God sent His angels to save Lot and his family. They were warned not to look back…Lot’s wife looked back anyway and we know what happened to her; she turned into a “pillar of salt.” She is an example of someone attached to material things. She wanted to see what was happening to her home and the sad result was that she lost everything.
The Israelites experienced a little difficulty soon after escaping from slavery in Egypt and wanted to go back to their chains (Exodus 16:3). In the New Testament we find Ananias and Sapphira, who lied about how much they sold a property for so they could keep part of the money, but still look good in the eyes of other believers. Peter told them they didn’t just lie to men, but to God, and we know what happened to them. They like Lot’s wife were looking back at material things instead of forward toward what God had for them. The Rich Young Ruler of Matthew 19 did the same as he was looking backward at all the riches he would lose if he were to go forward with following Jesus.
Mark may give us an additional way of looking back with our lives and a way of actually turning back from God’s will as did Ananias and Sapphira. Mark we know from Acts 15:38 while on a mission trip with Paul left the work at Pamphylia and went back home. Some think he had grown fearful, others think he may have been missing a girlfriend back home; Mark not only looked back, he went back. However, that was not the end of the story because from 2 Timothy 4:11 we find that Paul now considers Mark to be “profitable,” or “useful” in ministry and Paul wanted him by his side. We can see that we can look backward in our lives to all of our material things. We can also look backward for other reasons like people (i.e. Mark possibly missing a girlfriend), and safety. We can also go backward spiritually by returning to the way that we lived prior to becoming believers in Jesus.
The Psalmist speaks of another backward way of looking (Psalm 40:11-12). We can become overwhelmed by thinking of how we have sinned in the past, of our past failures. This kind of backward thinking can paralyze us to the extent that we are unable to move forward in service to our Lord. In this kind of situation, we do not need to remember Lot’s wife; no, we need to remember 1 John 1:9. We need to look to the example of Mark, who returned to the work, after a dismal past failure. Stop looking backward, and instead look forward to all of the glorious riches that we have in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).