On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man in history to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Shortly after, John Landy eclipsed the record by 1.4 seconds. In August of that year, the two men met together for a historic race. Landy held the lead as they entered the last lap, but he couldn’t help wondering how close Bannister was. As he turned to look, Bannister took the lead. Landy later told a Time magazine reporter, “If I hadn’t looked back, I would have won!”
Lot’s wife is the biblical poster child for the dangers of looking back. Her city was being destroyed. She had been warned to flee and not look back, but the urge was too strong: “Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26)
It’s never easy to leave behind the things that we know and love – even when those things are not so healthy for us. In our spiritual life, there are certain behaviors – sin – which we must leave behind. God invites us to move on and to grow in holiness, yet we have a tendency to look back at something familiar and perhaps comforting. Mrs. Lot’s story suggests that is unwise. Repentance means turning away from sin.
What is it you need to leave behind? What do you keep looking back at? And if you keep looking back, what effect is it going to have on where you are going?
Having been freed from slavery, the children of Israel wanted to go back to Egypt. But that wasn’t where their freedom lay. They needed to press on to the Promised Land and trust God for victory. It’s no different for us today. Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:13, 14)
Keep looking heavenward. There is nothing behind you that is needed for this journey.