We all know life viewed in the rear view mirror gives a 20/20 perspective. Looking to the past it’s easy to see clearly the issues that once clouded our view. We recognize sometimes we made good decisions and sometimes decisions were not so good. We try to learn from the past hoping not to repeat mistakes. Of course reality is, we can’t know all things well enough to prevent mistakes. Life requires us to exercise our best judgment and move on with life. Later we can look in the mirror and know if we reasoned well, analyzed our situation well or were just lucky in guessing. And many times the view in the mirror shows us the outcome might have been different if we had only known… this or that.
In contemplating “God’s will for my life”, people sometimes are frozen in to inactivity for fear of making the wrong decision. I’m convinced the will of God, (for the person seeking him first), is discovered in the going. It’s exercising trust in God to direct and in so doing we decide actions to take based on the best knowledge we have at the time. This is analyzing what we know, evaluating the cause and effect of our circumstances, and coming to peace with the potential consequences. In short, we deal with it, we make the best of it. In time we know whether we did well or not. So is God caught up short by our actions and somehow hamstrung if we make wrong decisions? Obviously not.
Here’s an example from scripture to illustrate what I mean. From Ephesus Paul returned to Jerusalem to stand trial for his faith. It was an emotional scene with the elders of the church on the beach as he prepared to board a ship for the journey. He would make his plea to Felix, then Festus and Agrippa. Paul had made his decision to go to Jerusalem in spite of the prophecy of Agabus and the warning and counsel of close friends. Before arriving for his trial he was rescued by Roman soldiers from a mob trying to kill him, then taken to the Roman garrison for beating. Here he exercised his right to trial before Caesar because he was a Roman citizen by birth. Eventually he stood before the sequence of magistrates giving a powerful defense of the Gospel. Agrippa was so moved by Paul, he truncated the defense rather than be forced to look in his own rear view mirror. As Agrippa exited the hall he said to Festus, “this man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” (Acts 26:32) Did he make the wrong decision? I’d be tempted to think, “wow, if only I hadn’t made an appeal to Caesar. I could have been outta here!” Paul could have thought so. He didn’t because he recognized God was in the midst of all decisions in life and his sovereignty covers every thing and every circumstance.
To concentrate on life in the rear view mirror is not a good thing to do. Imagine driving a car. The results would be disastrous if while moving forward all we did was fixate on the rear view. It’s good to check the rear view now and then, but we move forward. We deal with life, assess the situations, make our best judgments with what we know at the time. We trust God for the results. He’s the only one who lives in the past, present and future.
Regarding looking in the rear view mirror, you’re absolutely right…we must learn from the past but not LIVE in the past. Each decade of life has a new challenge for us. We are older, hopefully wiser and can’t always keep doing the things we’ve always done or sometimes have to do it differently. This is something I have faced this year. Thanks for the wise words.
yes and you are right, a difference in looking at the past and living there
Wow! Glenn, that was an excellent insight, and one that I would like toshare with others. Once every month or so I write a brief word of encouragement to the appointees and some staff of TeachBeyond (formerly Janz Team). I would like very much to share your article, as I think many young appointees are like “deer in a headlight” when they don;t have God’s will clearly spelled out. Let me know if you think this would be possible to share. Of course, I would mention you as the author. If you would like people to respond to you directly, just send me your email address and I will include it at the end of the article. Good work – and I miss you even more now. Hugs to both you and Diane.
you are welcome to use it. I pray it will help you as you minister to people. I remember when I used to recruit for GEM the same question was always the #1 thing on the minds of young(er) people. Thank you for giving me the credit.
Hi to Cyd 🙂