From Bishop Jemmott’s The Bishop’s Pen article for August 2017 entitled “Looking Back Disqualifies You!”:
Gordon Ramsay is one of my favorite celebrity chefs, not only can he cook but I love his attitude about life. Read his quote about looking back: “I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow.” “Too busy looking for the next cow;” that’s the way every believer should live life. There is nothing you can do about spilled milk; you just have to clean it up and move on. If you spend your life constantly looking back in the rear view mirror, you will not see where you are going, which will lead you to disaster.
There is an interesting conversation in the gospel of Luke about following Jesus which ends in Jesus saying, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 (NIV) Please note that the individuals are not named in the text. The fact that they are not named makes the lesson applicable to anyone who wants to follow Jesus.
The conversation began with someone saying that they will follow Jesus anywhere He goes, to which Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:58 (NIV) After hearing the answer from Jesus, this individual decided not to follow Him because of the uncertainty of not knowing what was next. Many of us are like that individual; we don’t completely surrender to Jesus because of the uncertainty of the direction we must walk.
To another individual, Jesus said, “Follow me.” Luke 9:59 (NIV) This person replied I will follow but permit me to bury my father! Jesus answered, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59 (NIV) The text did not say that his father was dead. Traditionally a Jewish burial takes place within 24 hours of death because the Torah says, “You shall bury him the same day…His body should not remain all night.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) He wanted to be allowed to continue the care for his father until his death, and after his death, he would follow. Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead…” Many of us are like this man; we are so involved and committed with the cares of life that we put off the call of God in our lives.
The last individual said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Luke 9:61 (NIV) Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61 (NIV) Jesus is not saying that we cannot look back over our lives. As a matter of fact, looking back over our lives helps and encourages us to see the things we have overcome, and where the Lord has brought us from. The looking back that Jesus is speaks of, is the looking back that dwells on the past or the longing for something or someone in your past. If you are constantly looking back with longing and desire for your past, you are not “fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Another word for “fit” is “useless”; you bring no value to the kingdom of God. Again let me repeat this, any believer who is always looking back, questioning their current situation and having a desire to return to the good old days is not “fit for service in the kingdom of God.”