Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Rearview Mirror

It was dark, and I was late. I was on my way last night to speak at a Christmas Tea just north of Lancaster, PA. Sitting in stop and go traffic in Baltimore had used up all of my smoodge time. There was no time for mistakes. I took a wrong turn.

I didn’t panic until I ran out of civilization and realized something was very wrong. So I stopped at a convenience store to get help. Eight kind people gathered around my set of Google directions, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be headed. No one had heard of the cross street I was seeking. Finally one man in the crowd recognized my destination. He pointed me in the correct direction. I left the store amid warm wishes of good luck.

I found where I made my mistake, and gratefully resumed my course. The tea started at 7:00. It was now 7:10. Turning on to an even smaller rural road, I heard a clunk. My rear view mirror had just fallen off the windshield. Oh, come on.

Once I arrived at the church, my time with the ladies at Cocalico Community Chapel was well worth the trip. They were warm, friendly, and ready for a good time. While in the ladies room I met up with Suzy, who graduated from WBC with my husband and remembered him well. At my table, I sat with Esther, whom we also discovered had an interesting connection with me. Her best friend, Barb, lived with us for six months back in Lanham. I eventually shared with the women about the Light of the World, Jesus, who had come to bring light into a world walking in darkness. I even won a door prize! It was a very nice evening.

But now I faced the long trip home. In the dark. Without a rear view mirror.

Suburban girls like me get a little shook riding on dark country roads. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the scenery immensely if it had been daytime. But at night, the isolation and darkness seemed a little scary. And how would I ever make it home without a rear view mirror??

Yet as I drove my way south, to my surprise I discovered I hardly missed my rear view mirror at all. I really didn’t need it to drive safely. I remembered how much I depended on that mirror in normal circumstances. I began to wonder if I have spent a little too much time looking into my rear view mirror.

The Apostle Paul wasn’t guilty of looking backwards, at least not too often. He wrote the Philippians: “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul indicates the two directions he has trained his eye toward: forward and upward. Forward to what God has called him to do. Upward toward his power source and promise of reward.

Note the two directions Paul does not allow himself to gaze. Downward, at his own two feet and obvious fallibility. Backward, at his past mistakes and regrets.

If we are to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives, we need to be careful at where we aim our gaze. I have the tendency to gaze into the rear view mirror. I should have done things differently, better than I did. I worry over past conversations and how I might have been offensive, or worse, sounded foolish in what I said. I also like to gaze at my own two feet. How could God use such a faulty individual? Who am I to stand in front of women like I have it all together?

The problem with both directions is that they are all about me. What I did. What I said. What I can do.

Yet what I need to do is continue forward, with arms outstretched, step by purposeful step moving toward the prize which has been promised me. My gaze must remain on Jesus, who has already walked on my path and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. Resting in Him will provide the power to keep moving. The mistakes and regrets of my past are water under the bridge. Jesus died to release me from the burden of sin. He’s got it covered-- washing me clean in His precious blood.

I really don’t need that rearview mirror as much as I thought.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Julie,
It was great to finally meet you last night! Thanks for a great evening! I'm so thankful God sent you our way. Your example already has taught me several encouraging things. I'll share two with you. First, your attitude last night about being late - you went with it and didn't let it fluster you (at least not that I could tell!). That helped me to keep from getting flustered over the fact that we didn't have enough seats and I was able to enjoy the evening and even the glitch instead of worrying about it. Secondly, your coming home and writing your experience and thoughts along with the lessons you learned from it and sharing it in a way that it can be helpful to others is great! It shows how God is working every moment through every situation to those who are listening and learning and was encouraging to me! Thanks so much for sharing yourself and allowing God to use you. It is amazing what He chooses to do through us! Well, I've got to go post a note on Barb's facebook page to tell her I met you! She will be tickled to know! Thanks again for ministering to us. We were blessed. In Him, Esther

Esther said...

Another thing, I think I'll look in the rearview mirror a little less too! :)

Van said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog today...You know we speakers set out to share with others. God never ceases to amaze me how there is a lesson in each journey I take when I set out to speak! I traveled that dark lonely road with you and felt the peaceful presence of our Lord.

Dr. Cathy R. Turner said...

The theme of my life is "looking forward." Loved this one. Thanks and have a blessed Christmas!
Cathy