If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:15-16
This passage highlights God’s call to enter new and uncomfortable circumstances. In the Biblical stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses we see God calling the faithful into new and uncertain territory.
We also will be called into uncertain circumstances, relationships and opportunities. And, in these cases, we must rely on our faith to leave behind comfortable and seemingly safe situations in order to fulfill our purpose.
But, far more often, what we must leave behind isn’t the comfort and safety of desirable circumstances. More often than not, the land we keep thinking of is not the land of our past comfort, but the land of our mistakes, our should-haves and our wish-I-hadn’ts.
We look back with regret, believing our transgressions have forever marked us as less-than-desirable. Perhaps, we think, they’ve even knocked us off the path to the Promised Land altogether.
When we focus on our past, when we turn our mind and spirit to regret, we take our eyes off the path ahead – the path that assures us in faith of God’s grace, of Christ’s love that never wavers, no matter how dark the land we’ve left behind.
When we regret, we are recommitting our sins in our mind and heart, blocking God’s ever-present and unchanging passionate desire to forgive us, and to lead us into “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
We will be called to step in faith into an uncertain future. But for each of those callings to move forward we will face scores of instances in which we must have the faith, and the courage, to not waste our present dwelling on our imperfect past.
Repent for past sins. And, when necessary, make atonement. But then, turn your eyes away from the past, dwell in the unshakable love of Christ in the present, and have courage to walk forward to the Kingdom of Heaven.
God, help us today to keep our eyes on the path ahead, focusing neither on the comfort or the anguish of the past, but rather on our walk forward in your constant love. Amen.