Looking back or forward?

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV).

I was going down the three flights of steps from my apartment at Khulna Bible College carrying some treats Brenda had prepared for the workers. Unfortunately I had failed to take off my bifocals and as I descended, the steps were out of focus, causing me to miss one and fall. Thankfully I was near the bottom and it was not a hard, injury-producing fall, but enough to make me more careful nonetheless.

Perspective is a key to successful living. How do you view things? From which direction? Through which “filter” (prejudice, anger, hatred, love)? The various options we choose will determine both what we see or focus upon, and how we perceive it.

As I write this final article for 2019, it strikes me as an appropriate time to check up on our perspectives. Are we looking primarily forward to new opportunities and challenges in 2020? Or are we still preoccupied with mistakes and failures of the past year? Is our attitude hopeful or is it filled with guilt and regret?

It is not bad to look backwards to the past in order to note one’s mistakes or accomplishments. We may learn from them, and use them as springboards for the future. But if our back-facing perspective contributes to unnecessary feelings of guilt and regret or, perhaps worse, excessive pride in things we have done, those will almost certainly hamper our efforts in the future.

If we remember mistakes from 2019, let us correct them as best we can through repentance, recompense, and determination not to repeat them. As we face a New Year let us seek to retain open eyes for opportunities, courage to face challenges, and hope for God’s generous blessings.

Whatever we see, let us perceive it clearly and accurately so that we may deal with it responsibly. And let us always see with eyes of faith and hope, knowing that “For those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).


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