As time passes, we occasionally look back wistfully at the good days of yore: when we were kids, the “easy” times of our marriage, baseball season.
Reflection is important, but Jesus warns us about the prospect of looking back for too long:
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
What’s the big deal? Why not reach back and do what we once did? Take a look at the story of Jesus’ disciples, who decided to take a boat trip after all the hubbub with Christ’s death and resurrection.
They caught nothing
As soon as Jesus was arrested, the disciples scattered, just as foretold. They had immediately lost hope — the next time we read about them, they’re locked in a room fearing for their lives.
It’s possible that this fishing trip is their first time doing something outside without Jesus since His death and resurrection. They don’t know what else to do with their time, so they go back to what they were doing at the beginning.
But they catch no fish. It’s not because they’re ill advised, or that Jesus isn’t “present.” It’s because they had spent countless hours walking alongside Jesus, and they went back to the boat.
Once we walk with Jesus, everything changes — our motives, intentions, and occupations. We mustn’t return to how things once were as if He had nothing to do with our lives. You’ll be surprised by how unsuccessful you might be if you do so.
You know all things
After Peter’s dramatic Forrest Gump moment, Jesus sits and has a meal with the boys and begins speaking directly to Peter himself.
Jesus begins a little salty, reminding Peter of the thrice denial. Peter is heartbroken, and confesses in a desperate cry for mercy:
Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.
Jesus does not want Peter to go back to complacency. He wants Peter to recognize how far he has come along, and how far he will someday go.
Jesus wants us to realize that He does not want us to go back to our former ways, where we went about and did what we pleased. Instead, let us move closer to obedience and in sync with what He would have us do.
What is that to you?
We’re excellent comparison shoppers. Last night, I was just explaining to someone that the consumer is “smarter” than ever, only because we can use the Internet to zero in on prices and determine the best deal in moments before we’re suckered into overspending.
We’re good at comparing ourselves to others as well. Comparison is healthy and helps with our cognitive development, but when it becomes a preoccupation, we risk losing our identity, only finding our worth in the context of others.
Peter brings up his fellow disciple John in conversation, asking the Lord what would become of him. Jesus replies with a response equivalent to “mind your own business”:
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
Stop looking back to others, as strong as the temptation might be. “You follow Me,” He says, and we must do so. Following anyone else jeopardizes your identity, and compromises your ability to follow Christ.
We learn three reasons why we should avoid going back:
1) We’ll catch nothing.
2) We will not grow.
3) We’ll lose our identity
I know that sometimes it seems life was once easier. Perhaps it was. But is this pursuit of Christ worth it to you? If so, why go back to the way it was?