The thing is, physically we really don't usually do this. Unless you are in a slasher movie and someone is chasing you and you keep looking behind you to see how close they are now. But then how many of us are dumb enough to go into the creepy dark house on our own anyway? Well, that's another story...
So we are traveling through life, living in the present, looking towards the future. We are accomplishing the tasks of today. Our jobs, our household responsibilities, studies, taking care of children. All the while having a plan for what is to come. A 6 month goal, 1 year, 5 years. We are moving forward. But too many of us want to keep looking into that rearview mirror. I know I tend to do this too often. We are all wired differently. For my husband, his thing is counting. Counting the lines on the highway, the tiles on a floor. For me, it is ok, today it's Tuesday, 8:35 am...yesterday at this time, this is what I was doing. Not even sure what the heck that is about, but I have always done that; or maybe a week ago, this is what I was doing. Maybe it's a way for me to think of what I have actually accomplished, or of something fun I was able to do. But dwelling on the past too much can severely affect what we do now and in the future. If I am dwelling on the past, I tend to get lost in those thoughts and it turns to daydreaming of a sort and I am pretty useless at that point. And I think for most of us, the past things we think of are not the pleasant memories that give us joy, but the failures we have had, or the times we have been hurt or let down by others. And then that gets into some really destructive thoughts. Either of what a lousy person I am, or what a jerk that other person is. There is a scripture in Phillipians 3:13 that says, "Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,". I believe that Paul was not just talking about the bad things that had happened in his life. The time when he was persecuting Christians, when he held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. He was also thinking of all of the things that were good. His accolades. His accomplishments in study and life. He laid all of those things down and put them behind him, because just like Paul Harvey used to say, there is the rest of the story. Verse 14 in Phillipians 3 goes on to say, "I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The reason we don't keep looking to, or living in the past is because we have an amazing 'present' here with God and an even more wonderful future coming. I know what my failures are. Believe me, I tend to be like a cow chewing on its cud, I take that unpleasant memory and don't just chew it, I masticate it until it is ground into oblivion. And I know how I can be when I see someone who has hurt me or my family. We have all been there. We are in the grocery market, and here comes so-and-so, and oh, they were so nasty to us. My blood pressure goes up, I remember all those things they said and did and I am thinking, I could just pick up a can of tomatoes and chuck it at their head! Wait, did I just say that? No, really instead I duck behind the cereal display and wait until they go past. But when I look again, I realize it wasn't even that person, just a doppelganger that looked like them. So I have wasted time and emotion on something that is dead and gone and worked myself up into a lather to boot.
I want to more than anything learn how to be more Christ-like. And that means putting the past behind and leaving it there. Jesus himself did that. When He was resurrected and returned to spend more time with the disciples, He didn't turn on Peter and say, you loser, you denied me, so here, duck this can of tomatoes! No, rather He sought Peter out to bring healing to him and to others. Our choices and actions today are what matter. I want to choose today to be better than I was yesterday. I want to choose today to believe God's word that yes, His mercies are new every morning. New not just for me, but for others also.
I want to live like I am running that race that Jesus set before me and accomplish what He has set before me. I want to forget the hurtful things in the past. I want to not rest on my laurels of those things that I accomplished back in the day. Today is a new day. Today is the only day I have promised to me. So today I want to make the choices that honor God and bring glory to His name. Today I want to live in the present. To do what it says in 2 Timothy 4:2, be ready in season and out. To encourage, speak His word, to love.
The funny thing about looking in the rearview mirror while you are driving, you take your eyes off what is ahead of you. And if you do look forward again, what is now in that mirror isn't even what you saw a second ago. The scene changed. Maybe minutely, but it did change. Let's make the choice to live NOW. To be present in this glorious life that God has given us. Even in the moments of drudgery. That mountain of laundry to finish. That account that needs to be finished at work. Helping the kids with their homework. Do all things as unto the Lord. Because each day is a gift that we should not take for granted. A chance to live a life of thanks to the One who loves us more than we can imagine. The chance to love others. The chance to not live in the rearview mirror, but to be a mirror image of Him.