The Lord said to Moses,
“Give Aaron the following instructions:
When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand,
place them so their light shines forward
in front of the lampstand.”
So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps
so they reflected their light forward,
just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Numbers 8:1-3

Sometimes when I’m reading my daily Bible reading, I tend to speed read or scan over passages in the Old Testament that I feel are more historical in nature than applicable to my life today. And although that is the case many times, especially in the Books of Numbers or Leviticus, sometimes a passage will jump out at me and preach an entire sermon. That is what happened this morning as I was reading in the Book of Numbers. The verse above, that ordinarily would be just another one of the Levitical regulations set out for the operation of the temple caught my attention like a neon sign in an otherwise dark city. “When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.”

If I am to be totally honest, and I usually am, I have spent most of my life looking backward, shining a judgmental, critical and remorseful light on my past. “Oh, why did I do that? Why didn’t I do this? How could I have been so stupid? What is wrong with me?” Do you sense a slight hint of perfectionism? Yes…and not just a slight hint, but a full-blown expose’! I don’t know if I was just born with that propensity or if it was developed early in my childhood, but it has made me miserable most of my life. As I said, I was my own worse critic!  Even when I did well…in my own eyes I didn’t measure up. I always could have done it differently…or better!  Not until recent years have I come to a full realization of this and tried to change it.

What if a person is walking down a dark path at midnight? There is only a sliver of a moon which really provides no beneficial light. The person has a flashlight, but is holding it the wrong way, thus the light is illuminating the pathway behind them. They can’t see where they’re going, only where they’ve been. Their hope for the future is minimized, as they focus only on the past.

What about someone who is driving, but rather than focusing on the road ahead, is obsessed with the view in the rear view mirror? To put it very tactfully, their future would be a very dismal one indeed! Are you getting the picture? It is so not worth it to focus on the past. Every once in a while you do have to glance in your rear view mirror, but a prolonged look could cost you.

Look at your past, learn from your mistakes, ask God to forgive you, forgive yourself and move on. Shine the light of your attention forward, in front of you…on the future God has prepared for you. He declares if you put your trust in Him, it will be a good one!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

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