Imagine for a moment that you are a professional golfer. You have made your way to the Masters for the first time. Going in to the last day of the tournament you are tied for the lead. That evening, you decide to watch every video of a major putt that you missed as a professional. Over and over you watch yourself screw up. Sunday arrives. You are on the eighteenth green. You will be the Masters Champion if you sink this putt. Your mind is flooded with your past missed putts. What are your chances for success? In much the same way, what is our chance for spiritual success if we keep looking back and focusing on our mistakes? Please read more…
Sports trainers work with professional athletes to teach them the power of Positive Mental Imaging. Here is a quote from Remez Sasson, an author on the topic of success training: “A mental image is picture, scene or event that you visualize in your mind. You construct mental images in your mind all the time, albeit unconsciously. The mental images that you often visualize affect your life, whether you are aware of this or not. I am not talking mental images that you visualize once or twice, but about those that you often repeat in your mind.”
He continues by stating this: “Your mental images can change your life. The subconscious mind accepts the images you create in your mind as reality, and if you keep repeating them, you will gradually begin to believe what you are imagining. Soon you will act and behave in accordance with the mental images, and work toward making them a reality in your life.”
Finally he states: “If you visualize negative situations, difficulties and problems, and continue doing so, your state of mind will gradually become negative.”
Certainly looking back to recognize our faults is important. Acknowledging our sins is often the first step in eventually overcoming them. Working on getting better is important, but becoming consumed with and distraught over our past mistakes is not only unwise, it often leads to making the same mistakes again. Notice that today’s title is not “Don’t look back.” It is: “Don’t keep looking back.”
In Genesis 19:17, we read the warning given to Lot and his family: “Flee for your life! Do not look back…” but just a little further on in Genesis 19:26 we read this: “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.” What good does it serve to continually dredge up our past sins? It doesn’t do any good! In a spiritual sense, we run the risk of becoming pillars of salt. We can become paralyzed in our brokenness. We become destined to repeat our past faults.
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul tells us to forget what is behind us and instead look forward to the prize of Jesus Christ that lies ahead. Jesus is more than ready to forgive our transgressions and forget them, so why don’t we forget them too?
In Jeremiah 31:34 we read: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” In Isaiah 43:25 it says: “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Paul writes in Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.” Acts 3:19 states: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” And finally Psalms103:14 says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.”
Is it any wonder that Jesus employed parables to paint visual images in the minds of His followers (Matthew 13:34)? He knew that they would have a better chance of doing what he taught if they could retain the mental image in their minds.
Sports scientists know the meaning of “Functional Equivalence.” They know that the brain doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined action. When you visualize a physical action, you stimulate the same muscles that you would use to perform the real action. Professional golfers imagine where they want the ball to go, and then their mentally trained muscles make this a reality.
Counselors who work with addiction have been using positive visualization to treat addicts for years. Addictions and bad habits are extremely difficult to overcome. Positive visualization can help the addict get through their urge to engage in the wrong behavior. In exactly the same way, positive visualization can help Christians overcome their sinful behaviors.
I think it is time that we put positive visualization to work in our spiritual life. You and I are called to be holy saints of God. Both 1 Corinthians 1:2 and Romans 1:7 make this clear. If we accept this, then we need to focus on what Scripture tells us is necessary to be holy. We must keep our gaze on Jesus! When Peter was focused on Jesus he was able to walk on water. When he took his gaze off of Jesus he sank into the water. Just imagine what your potential could be if you could keep your eyes on our Lord rather than looking backwards!
You and I are saints in the making. Let’s keep that picture in mind!
Heavenly Father, I am often consumed by my past sins and inability to break free from them, and as a result I put too much trust in myself to find freedom. You forgive and forget. I don’t seem able to do that. Help me to remain focused on Your Son. He alone is MY SAVIOR! Amen.
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