I was zipping down Interstate 95 last week, in between dropping my older boys off at the movies and swinging my daughter to an appointment, when I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw a mountain barreling down on me. Yikes! The massive red and white semi showed no sign of slowing.
For a moment I was so distracted by what was coming up behind me that I forgot what was in front of me and nearly drove off the road. As I steadied my hands on the wheel and pulled off at my exit, I heard a gentle reminder in my spirit, “You can’t drive while looking in the rear-view mirror.”
Obvious. Right? What kind of a dumbbell goes careening down the highway at 65 mph while looking backward? Well, me.
Sadly, that rainy day on the freeway wasn’t the only time I’ve made this mistake. In fact, I try going forward by looking backward daily. No, not while driving. Even worse: by living.
What if I had waited longer before getting married? Or accepted that job? Or pursued my masters? Would life be easier? Would I be more successful? Would I be happier? The longer I look in the rear-view mirror, the worse my steering gets until I can’t even see the road any more. Where was I going again?
There is a time for looking backward, for pondering past choices, for heart-wrenching regret. But if I make the past my focus, my life is going to go nowhere. Or worse—in the ditch. Just as distracting can be the daily challenges and difficulties whizzing all around.
Several years ago when I was driving our daughter Ruth, then three, to Boston every other month to be evaluated for a cochlear implant while struggling to learn sign language, home schooling two kids, trying to turn around articles on deadline, and—well—just survive, I told God I couldn’t do it anymore. The daily demands were too much. I was ready to stop the van and get out. End of journey.
Once again, I felt his Spirit speaking to me, “Just keep your eyes on Me.”
Looking at Christ instead of my difficulties was the key to making it down that rough road. Several months later, Ruth had the surgery that eventually allowed her to hear the sound of her own laughter, my goodnight songs, and the story of her adoption.
Now, more than a year after her unexpected death from complications related to cerebral palsy, my greatest temptation is to look backward. What did I miss? How could God allow this? What if I had checked on her that night?
The questions cripple me.
Then comes that familiar voice, “Keep your eyes on Me.”
If there is anything I have learned in my journey with Ruth, it is give all you can, love as deeply as you can, grieve, and keep looking forward.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Hebrews 12:1-2.
Jesus didn’t run looking backward. So, I’m not going to either.
What about you? Do you struggle to keep going because of difficult circumstances or past regrets? What keeps you moving forward?
Thank you for this post, it really blessed me!