This weekend has been a little bit frustrating. Whilst my car has been fixed and no longer makes scary squealing noises as you break and neither does it creak around corners the rear-view mirror has become dysfunctional. If you try to adjust it or if you hit a little bump in the road the mirror falls off. It has made me wonder how much I actually need the mirror – d I really need to pick it up every time and try to persuade it to stay. Do I need to get it replaced or can I live without it. How important is it for me to see what is behind me?
The same is true of my walk with God – how much should I be looking back? Looking back has its dangers – sometimes we can be preoccupied with what is behind that we crash into something that is ahead of us. Yet there has to be a balance.
Sometimes the past is more comfortable for us that the unknown of the future – even if the like the Israelites in the wilderness the past was one of slavery and abuse. When they looked at the Promised Land they got scared and wanted to go back to what was familiar:
Numbers 14:1-4 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
Yet there is also the danger of always looking forward and not remembering where we have been and what God has done. God says we need to make an effort to remember:
Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.
So my wobbly rear-view mirror reminds me to balance – it is good to look back at the end of this year to see where we have come from and what God has done, yet I cannot live my live in reverse – forward is the God-ward direction even if the road is unknown. As 2011 disappears in my rear-view mirror I look back with gratitude and testify to God’s faithfulness through some very tough times and look forward with confidence, not knowing what is ahead, but because I know the One who leads the way into 2012.