Have you ever felt weary and burdened, like you are stuck in the wilderness with no end in sight?

As Christians we are called to live a life of incredible freedom. Jesus promises us in John that knowing the truth will set us free, and yet many of us still find ourselves hesitant to accept the gift of freedom and walk in the life of liberty that has been set before us.

In Genesis 19, the Lord revealed His plan to destroy the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He chose to save Lot and his family and guided them away from the city to live free from the destruction. They were given direction by angels sent from God who told them, “‘Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!’” (Genesis 19:17).

Although Lot’s family was delivered from destruction, Lot’s wife couldn’t help but look back at the place she had called home. It had been a place of oppression and grave sin, and yet she couldn’t bring herself to follow the voice of God that was calling her to freedom.

In her effort to preserve the past, she turned into a pillar of salt.

Though she had been delivered, her mind was trapped in what was, instead of looking forward to what was to come.

Maybe you have fallen into the “what was” mindset at one time or another. The Israelites were no different; in Exodus we see them battle this very same tension.

God delivered them from slavery, led them out of oppression, parted a sea as they fled and provided them with all of the food and water they needed. He guided them away from their captivity and wanted to bring them into the Promised Land. Over and over He showed them His protection and provision, yet the Israelites couldn’t see beyond their current wilderness.

In the midst of their journey, they began to believe that maybe life in Egyptian captivity was better than the life God was leading them into. They lost sight of the vision God promised them, and they began to fall into their old ways of thinking. Although they were delivered, their minds were still in bondage.

How often does the Lord display His faithfulness and love for us by guiding us and delivering us from our unpleasant circumstances, and instead of relishing in His faithfulness, we feel blinded by the wilderness we see ourselves in, choosing to preserve the past instead of moving forward in faith toward the Promised Land?

Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

While this may seem simple, it is deeply profound. This verse moves us from longing for what was, to living for what is to come.”

Paul expands on these “things above” in Philippians 4:8. He tells us to focus our minds on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy, and continues that thought into verse 9: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

We must learn not only how to receive freedom, but how to walk in it.

How can the Lord use us to bring others into freedom if we have not yet walked in it for ourselves? Paul writes in Philippians 2 for us to have the mindset of Christ and shows us that it is necessary to renew our mind through meditating on the things above in order to not just appear as if we are in our Promised Land, but to be truly dwelling there.

Freedom is always offered if we walk in the Spirit, and even in the valley we must hold tight to the God of peace guiding us into the deliverance set before us.

Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Meditating on God’s Word leads us to live a life of peace and true deliverance. We must learn to listen to the voice of God guiding our minds to focus on all that He is leading us into.

Now let’s take a moment to ask ourselves where our focus is. Are our minds still conformed to the past, stuck in the bondage of our former selves, or are we looking forward, eyes fixed on the promise set before us and the Kingdom of God within?

Don’t look back with longing. Keep receiving and taking steps toward Him, allowing Him to guide you into the life of incredible freedom He has for you.

Guest columnist Jenna Riggle is a member of Southeast Christian Church.