Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. (Psalm 105:4-5)
Today and Friday we will close out yet another year of Grace for the Race articles. I want to encourage you today to take a backward glance at this year that is coming to an end to remember and reflect on the many and multiplied wonders God has done in your life. On Friday we will stand at the starting line of another new year and discuss how to begin from a spiritually strong foundation . . . and, Lord willing, cross the finish line even stronger than when we started.
Someone wisely said, “It is difficult to climb to the summit of the mountain when you are always looking over your shoulder.” True indeed, and yet a backward glance is beneficial for believers so that we can be reminded of all that God has done on our behalf. To be sure, a “glance,” by definition, is brief, and it must be so if we are to make forward progress throughout 2021. But make no mistake, taking a backward glance is the best way to close out another year of blessings that God has bestowed upon us.
Please understand that a backward glance is not the same as walking backward. We cannot go back, nor should we want to. God is moving us forward into His perfect plan and purpose for our lives, inasmuch as we live it out that plan imperfectly. It is vitally important to remember that we must always treat the past as a school; I often tell our congregation that we are to learn the lessons from our past but not live in our past. Far too many live in the past, dwelling on past triumphs or tragedies, which prohibits any measurable forward progress. But this is not for you!
Take some time during the next few days to reflect on the past year, and make sure that backward glance includes recalling both your successes and your storms. There is much to glean from both life experiences, because God has delivered both to us in order to conform us into the image and likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Let your “backward glance” bring to mind our Lord’s . . .
- Faithfulness and Friendship
- Discipline and Devotion
- Mercy and Ministry
- Love and Leading
I will be the first to acknowledge that the year 2020, with COVID-19, all the bitter political turmoil, and even violence in our cities, has been deeply distressing and discouraging. But know that the God of grace is still in complete, sovereign control of all things; not a bird falls to the ground apart from His perfect will (Matthew 10:29). We are not to be afraid, but trust in Him with all our hearts and ackowledge Him in all our ways (Proverbs 3:5-6). If you take your brief “backward glance” from that vantage point of faith, you will be encouraged and strengthened to launch out into 2021 with Jesus sitting upon the throne of your life, guiding you and growing you through every twist and turn, every up and down, and always walking by your side every step of the way.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!