One phrase that I find myself saying a lot when I’m teaching riding lessons is, “Eyes up!” That’s because when you’re riding, you need to be able to see where you’re going so you know that it’s safe for both you and your horse. Looking down at your horse – while a very nice view – isn’t going to help you much because the horse’s movements block your line of sight at that moment. And looking behind you while riding is pretty pointless because that’s not the direction you’re going. You want your eyes up, set on the path you’re riding because where your eyes are, there your body follows. And the same is true of our hearts and minds.
If our focus is on the things happening to us right now, we’re bound to feel overwhelmed and confused. We don’t know where we’re supposed to be or what direction we should head because all we can see is this present moment. We can live in the moment, but we shouldn’t be living for the moment. The first one lets us be fully present with the people around us, taking in and fully experiencing the life we’ve been given. The second has us constantly chasing the next thing, trying to figure out ways to make our lives noteworthy and remarkable to the outside world. That way of living often leaves us feeling hollow and the people around us feeling less important than our social media engagement.
“Don’t look back.” That was the command the Lord gave Lot and his family when fleeing from Sodom. They were not to look back and see the Lord’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot’s wife did, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Some Bible commentators believe that Lot’s wife looking back may have referred to her heart posture and to physically looking back. She had had a comfortable life in Sodom, with luxuries and status that she wouldn’t be able to find in the wilderness. Instead of trusting in God and having her heart and eyes firmly fixed on Him, she longed for her life before. Do we find ourselves in the same heart space? Are we longing for the things of this world, or are our eyes lifted toward the Lord?
We can look back at where we’ve come from to see how the Lord has moved in our lives, but we should never look back and wish to be that person again. We aren’t meant to be living our lives coveting the past; we’re meant to live with our focus ahead of us on the path God has placed us on. You can’t ride a pattern by looking over your shoulder every two minutes. You must focus your eyes forward to see where your horse’s next stride will be. There are so many beautiful things in store for us in this life, and we can either embrace and experience them all or choose to focus on the past and what we once had. Let’s keep our eyes up, friend, looking forward with eager expectation and welcoming this life with open arms and a soft heart.