This is the time of year when many are writing about looking back over the past year, recounting lessons learned, blessings, and obstacles. Looking back is helpful only insomuch as it focuses us on the beauty and blessings of our Savior. There is a danger in looking back that we focus too much on ourselves and not on God. Considering what we have accomplished and overcome can inadvertently lead to self-satisfaction and pride.
Reflecting on our problems and challenges can lead us down a road of discouragement and despair rather than focusing on the One who provides everything we need. If we visit it lightly, the past can teach us a few lessons and serve as a wonderful reminder of the provision of our God. Better to leave it quickly though and focus instead on the work ahead.
In the Bible, looking back is rarely something that ends well. Lot’s wife looked back and missed out on the redemption God was providing for her (Genesis 19:15-27). Jesus said no one who looked back to their old life was fit to be His disciple (Luke 9:62). At the same time, scripture encourages us to look back on what God has done for us (Deuteronomy 8; Psalm 105:5). So, there is a healthy way to look back, and that way always centers on our Creator.
As you reflect on the past year, don’t spend too much time on what could have been or what you wish would have been. As Jesus tells us, today has enough problems of its own (Matthew 6:34). We don’t need to borrow more trouble from the past. It’s time to move on and discover how we can build God’s Kingdom today. What habit or discipline can you begin today that will begin building more of God’s character in you? I submit that is a far better use of our time than looking back over things we can no longer change and events we cannot alter.
Regardless of what happened last year, what is it you feel God calling you to do in the next year? Who is He calling you to be three years from now? Those are worthy things to consider. To find answers to these questions will require you to spend time in prayer and digging a little deeper into God’s Word. If you prayerfully ask Him to show you who He wants you to be, He will reveal it to you. In fact, because of His Holy Spirit within you, I’ll bet you already know the person God wants you to be. Now it is time to act.
The past year may have been wonderful for you, but chances are it’s more likely you’ll be happy to see it end. There is nothing magical about a calendar. Who you are on the last day of this year, and the first day of the next, will not change because you flip a page. Only the love of Jesus can extinguish the pain of the past. Dates don’t matter. Jesus does. Don’t spend too much time looking back. What you accomplish in the future for Christ depends on the work you commit to do for Him today.
Don’t spend too much time looking back. Focus instead on what is on the road ahead. Recommit yourself to prayer and study. What is behind no longer matters. What you do from this point on does. Praise God for His goodness and provision. Remember His faithfulness. And then move on. The world is growing darker, and we have much work to do.