Christian Living · Christianity · Nonfiction

A Review of “Don’t Look Back”

I have been on the lookout for words of wisdom to help me stop ruminating over my past mistakes that often steal my peace of mind if not my joy. When I read the synopsis, I knew Christine Caine’s latest book might hold some secret knowledge.

Christine uses the story of Lot’s wife as a starting point for a discussion on how Christians become stuck in their pasts in her book, “Don’t Look Back: Getting Unstuck and Moving Forward with Passion and Purpose.” People tend to lose themselves in their past, which stymies their life’s purposes. Out of an estimated 170 women in scripture, Christine said Lot’s wife is the one woman Jesus want us to remember. Now she explained for all the Bible students out there that Jesus did say we’d remember the actions of the women who poured out perfumed oil over Him, but it was the act of pouring expensive perfume that would be memorialized in scriptures. It is Lot’s wife, a cautionary tale, He would have us remember as we live the Christian life.

In Genesis 18, two angels attended the pre-incarnate Jesus as He met with Abraham. The Lord tells Abraham he will become a great nation in this passage. At the same time, He alerts him to another reason for coming to him. He said in verses 20-21,

“…The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

God wanted to destroy those cities, but Abraham spoke on behalf of any of the righteous people who are in that region. His nephew Lot and his family lived in this prosperous city. God had richly blessed these cities, but the people had turned from Him in their sin and depravity. Abraham and the Lord came to an agreement that He would spare those cities for just 10 righteous people.

The story continued in Genesis 19 with the two angels arriving at Sodom. Lot sat at the gate and met them. The angels had planned to spend the night in the town square, but Lot persuaded them to come to his home. The men of Sodom demanded that Lot send out the men (really angels) to have sex with them. Lot knew what these people were like, so he told them he’d send his virgin daughters out to the men in exchange. His daughters were engaged to be married, and yet Lot is willing to send them out to these vile men. The people of Sodom were past the point of no return.

The two angels told Lot, his wife, and daughters they must flee. They told Lot to gather the rest of their family and leave that place. Lot ran to tell his daughters’ fiancés about the coming destruction, but they didn’t believe him. They thought he was joking. In verses 15-17, the story continued,

“At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”

Lot asked the angels if he and his family could run to a close, small town, and the angel said, “I will grant your request. I will not destroy the little village.  But hurry! Escape to it, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.” (This explains why that village was known as Zoar, which means “little place.”)

They make it to Zoar. They’re in the clear. Then, Lot’s wife looked back toward Sodom as God destroyed it, and she became a pillar of salt.

Jesus talked about Lot’s wife in Luke 17 while telling the people about the Kingdom of God. He warned that Christians needed to stay alert and prepared for His return. Life will look like it did in Noah’s day and in Lot’s day. And then Jesus said, in verse 32, the second shortest verse of the Bible:

“Remember Lot’s wife!”

The story of Lot’s wife is a powerful one, and yet Christine had never heard this unnamed woman mentioned at any conferences she spoke at or attended. She said Lot’s wife had turned into a substance that preserved food in ancient Israel. Salt also is what Jesus used to explain how we are to behave in this world as ambassadors for Christ. Jesus said in verse 33,

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”

Lot’s wife didn’t want to lose the life she left. Christine had compassion for her. She said, like so many who have fled their homes, Lot’s wife may have had plans for the future. She and Lot had made many memories in this once prosperous city. She no doubt had familiar routines and loved the home she created. Why was it so bad that she looked back?

Christine said it’s how Lot’s wife looked back: “foolishly, longingly” on that wicked place. She disobeyed God.

Christine wrote this book during and after the pandemic. She found herself, like so many of us, comparing how things used to be with how things are now. She said we can let our feelings and emotions direct our paths if we’re not vigilant. We can stay stuck in reverse never moving forward. God wants us to rise up and move in faith knowing He hasn’t changed. He will work His kingdom purposes through us.

Christine shared a number of stories throughout this study, some personal, some shared by her ministry members. She also shared several stories out of scripture. These people lived by faith and let God use what little they had to multiply those gifts. She talked about the widow of Zarephath who had a bit of flour and oil she used to make food for Elijah, even though she might not have a last meal for herself and for her son. God multiplied them. Rahab, then a prostitute, had used a simple cord of scarlet to save two Israelite spies. In faith, she trusted God and used the cord again, saving herself and her family’s lives. David, in faith, used five, small stones to kill Goliath. Finally, consider all those times Jesus proved His power to multiply the smallest things – the faith as small as a mustard seed, the lunch of a boy to feed 5000 people. Then, in Hebrews 11 , there’s this passage known as the “Hall of Faith,” which lists people who had victory through faith in God. They chose to obey God, and they set their eyes on eternity not on their temporary circumstances.  

Christine reminded me that I need to fix my eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfector of my faith.” He can help me stop looking back and start moving forward. I can pray and ask Him to help me move through grief, pain, illness, hardships, mistakes, heartbreak… pretty much every obstacle that impedes my path as I run to finish the race well.

Maybe like me, you’ve tried to move on from past mistakes, and you want a “do over.” I think of people in my past and how a younger Susan behaved. I feel like the enemy has these pieces of evidence he likes to dredge up to remind me who I was. “What must so-and-so think of you? They must hate you. How can you live with yourself?”

As these are things I can’t change, I turn them over to God who forgave me long ago. I can’t ask some of these people to forgive me because they are no longer in my life; however, I can pray for them. I can ask God to bless them. (I have asked Him for a chance to apologize to people in the future, so of course I’m waiting for that time as well.) I like what Matthew West recently penned in his song, “My Story, Your Glory.”

The story of me was a story of shame

Wrong turns written on every page

So many parts that were so messed up

But I love part where you showed up

Re-writing my past, re-writing my hurt

Line by line, word by word

And now my story is living proof

There’s not a chapter that you can’t use

My story, your glory

My pain, your purpose

My mess, your message

In all things I know you’re working

One life, one mission

One reason why I’m living

All for you, not for me

My story, your glory

I talked to Dave about the premise of this book. We’ve talked about this spiritual warfare both of us experience. Things we wish we could change about the past. He asked me if I thought I’d be the same person today if I hadn’t made the choices I made. I’ve walked through seasons of massive anxiety, gut-wrenching depression, debilitating and chronic pain and migraine. They’ve all worked hard to derail my plans, but I drew on my faith like never before. By the time I had a hypertensive crisis in 2013, I had been studying scripture enough that I had a spiritual battle plan in place. God made me stronger inside so that storm didn’t overtake me. (In fact, I remember I slept much better in the hospital than I did at home.) I need to remind myself daily that God is in control and He has never failed.

Christine Caine did not have an easy life before she founded a global ministry. She suffered abuse as a child. She learned she was adopted during a time of forced adoptions in Australia. God called her into the mission field and into specific ministries where she has teamed up to help so many people. She and her husband Nick founded A21 ministries, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that looks to put an end to human trafficking. She also started “Propel Women, an organization designed to empower and activate women in their passion, purpose, and potential.” Another ministries she and Nick founded, Zoe Church Europe, has lead pastors who reach people with the Gospel message in different countries, while also giving humanitarian aid. God definitely multiplied her gifts and these ministries for His kingdom purposes.

Christine’s book reminded me that no matter how messy my mess is, God can use it for His mission. He can multiply whatever I have to give. I need to rise up and press on through whatever obstacles life throws in my path. Just take one small step forward. No turning back. I don’t want to become stuck in the past and hesitate to the point of procrastination. Christine’s last section talked about Revelation, and the reasons we Christians need to stay focused on the task at hand, drawing people to Christ. I want to stay alert and ready for God’s latest assignment because someone else’s life depends on it.

I hope you’ll consider reading “Don’t Look Back” when it comes out May 9, 2023. The book is available for preorder here and here. Other books Christine has written that you might want to start with are Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny; How Did I Get Here?: Finding Your Way Back to God When Everything is Pulling You Away; and Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do.

Thank you, Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Publishing for allowing me this opportunity to read and review this advance copy of “Don’t Look Back.”

And now for a video, here is Matthew West’s new song, “My Story, Your Glory.”


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