In my most recent blog, Pass the Baton, I talk about how critical it is that both runners in a relay race be moving forward. We also need to ‘think forward.’
One of my favorite scenes from ‘The Lion King’ is where Rafiki hits Simba in the head with his stick. Simba says, “Hey, what was that for,” and Rafiki answers, “It doesn’t matter, it is in the past.” Simba reminds Rafiki that it still hurt. Rafiki answers, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” If you learn from it, you are thinking forward; running from it, keeps it present in your mind and a distraction. Keep looking ahead. Learn from the past, but do not dwell on it.
A life lesson I learned from the game of Golf is that when we finish one hole, we move onto the next. The hole we just completed contributes to our total score, but it has no impact on this new hole. One hole does not define the total round. A tough lesson to not bring the “snowman” into the next tee box. Each day is a new golf hole to play, avoiding the hazards and keeping the ball in play, building one shot off the next.
“Don’t Look Back” by the band Boston, is an optimistic song about the road ahead. The song is even more relevant to this idea of thinking forward in that the tempo actually stops midway through the song and then rebuilds gradually to its peak of intensity.
A new day is breakin’
It’s been too long since I felt this way
I don’t mind where I get taken
The road is callin’
Today is the day
The ideal song to reference here is “Tomorrow” from the play, Annie. The song is a personal motto of optimism from the character of Annie. The sun will come up tomorrow and just thinking about that fact can often put today in perspective.
Anthony Robbins said, “Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgment.” By continuously thinking forward, we can turn bad judgement into success. Albert Einstein once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Mistakes are opportunities to learn. Use their teachings to make different decisions.
“Slump” is a dirty word in the sports world. As an athlete, we never want to be in a slump. The thing about a slump is we usually have no idea how we got there and no idea how to get out. We all can experience slumps in life. We can swing and miss; we can clunk a layup off the rim; we can drop passes that hit us in the hands. The only way out of a slump is to move forward – focus on the next pitch, the next shot, or the next pass. Some call it having ‘a shooter’s mentality.’ The most important shot we have is the next one, because that is the only one we can impact.
Last summer, I used a structured weight loss program to drop about 40 pounds. One of the program’s key features is to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Besides the science behind this approach, what is nice that when you go off ‘plan’ (i.e. overeat or eat those ‘bad’ things) you are only 2-1/2 hours away from being back on plan with the next meal. The plan has you thinking forward about correction and not reflecting on what happened.
There’s a scene in Ridley Scott’s ‘Black Hawk Down’ where Tom Sizemore, playing your basic tough-guy U.S. Army Ranger colonel, is in charge of a small convoy of Humvees trying to make its way back to base under heavy gun and rocket fire. He stops the convoy, takes in some wounded, tears a dead driver out of a driver’s seat, and barks at a bleeding sergeant who’s standing in shock nearby to get into the truck and drive. The sergeant replies, “but I’m shot.” The colonel answers “everybody’s shot, get in and drive.” Life takes shots at all of us, in different ways and at different times. We cannot allow that to hold us back or worse, paralyze us – we need to get in and drive forward.
The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing changed Bob Welch’s life forever. His 23-year-old daughter, Julie Marie was killed, along with 167 others. He was filled with hate that lingered with time. However, one cold January morning at the bombing site he decided that he needed to move forward. His tipping point came when he realized that he had to do something different, because what he had been doing wasn’t working. His quote – “in a world where wrongs are committed every day, I could do one small thing, make one individual decision, to stop the cycle.” To break a cycle, you need to think of the future.
Faith helps us to think forward in anticipation of the future. Fulfill Psalm 37 and move forward. The Psalm responds to the problem of evil, which the Old Testament often expresses as a question: why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer? The Psalm answers that the situation is only temporary. God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked.
Long before Boston sang “Don’t Look Back,” Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) and before Annie sang that the sun will come out tomorrow, scripture says “The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning— great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
The second shortest verse in Scripture is Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Jesus is referencing Genesis 19:17 when the angles clearly say, “Do not look back.” Lot’s wife did look back and turned into a pillar of salt. Jesus is communicating to us in these three words that we too have the free will to turn back but that we shouldn’t. Luke 17 is a chapter about faith, gratitude, duty, and the coming of the kingdom. It implores us to think forward.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians (3:13) he writes, “… forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead.” Press on, trust in God. We are on the road to salvation, on the road to glory, we must think forward to what we have in front of us.