I’ve wished a lot of time away.
...some of it was missed preoccupied with the future.
…some of it was wasted trapped by the past.
A rearview mirror is an important tool. But in order to drive forward, you need to keep looking forward – only glance at the rearview mirror as needed.
Chained and Restrained
Rearview gazing can be dangerous. It can stir up all the wrong things, and pull you back into the same old traps, feelings, or mistakes. Some people waste months, years, or even a lifetime hopelessly staring at the past. Some are chained to the horrors of the past; others are restrained by a certain fondness for the “good old days.” They wander in a land full of useless longing, or regrets, or bitterness, or worse. Living in the past drains the life and potential out of the present. Maybe this is why God urges us to “forget” the past.
"No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting* the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
*The original Greek word often translated as “forgetting” carries the meaning of “to no longer care for”
"Don’t long for 'the good old days.' This is not wise."
Comprehension and Inspiration
On the other hand, recalling the past is not forbidden. An occasional glance back can have great value – yes, all of your past …the GOOD and the BAD. It can provide a better comprehension of the present and inspiration for the future. Psalm 42 provides an interesting perspective on backward glances. The writer describes both heartbreak in the past and fond memories of the past. But before any of those thoughts had a chance to settle, he intentionally turns his heart to God and takes up a fresh pursuit of what is needed to get his life back on track.
"My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life."
Perspective, Not Direction
A rearview mirror is only there for perspective, not direction. Let the rearview glances put your perspective back on what God is doing in your life today and tomorrow.
· Let the mistakes of the past make you more aware of your weaknesses in the present.
· Let the good times in your past stir you to work at making the present the best it can be.
· Let the boredom of the past drive you to pursue something more challenging for today.
· Let the bad relationships in your past inspire a fresh wave of forgiveness within you.
· Let the painful times in your past remind you that God carried you through – even when you couldn’t see Him.
· Let the success in your past drive you to thankfulness and renewed hard work today.
· Let those whom you miss from your past remind you to savor your relationships today.
Your past and present are only chapters, not the entire book. Your journey is not finished; so don’t waste it staring in the rearview mirror.