When I began my studies at AFLBS the fall of 1976 a student would lead devotions each morning which included a hymn.
The hymn “I Look Not Back” was new to me and I cherish the words of that hymn. The very first line “I look not back; God knows the fruitless efforts, The wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets. I leave them all with Him who blots the record, and graciously forgives, and then forgets.”
My new car, when placed in reverse, has a safety system that incorporates a camera on the dashboard so you can “see” without turning around. I’m still learning to trust that system. I still find myself, from force of habit, looking back so I can believe what the camera is showing me is correct.
My sinful nature and the devil love for me to look back and see failures and shortcomings. It can bring despair when I look at opportunities missed, time misspent, etc. The apostle Paul mentions this in Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The only time to look back, is when we look back to our baptism. In baptism we were buried and raised with Christ. Our baptism has us look back even further to the death that became mine and the new life that becomes mine; the death and resurrection of Christ.
Looking back at my own life leads to nothing but despair. Looking back to see what God has given me in my baptism leads only to peace and joy.