The Rearview Mirror

Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced. —1 Chronicles 16:12 NIV

Before the days of digital devotionals, I used the blank backside of the front cover of my printed copy of Our Daily Bread to record prayer requests. This way, my prayer list and my daily readings were all in one place. When the month was up, I often tore off that cover and stuffed it into the new booklet until I had time to copy the prayer list.

One day while cleaning out my devotional basket, I came across those old prayer lists. Reading them over, I was amazed at how many of those requests had been answered. Perhaps not in the time or manner I’d wanted them to be, but, looking back over time, I could definitely see the hand of God. And my flagging faith was fortified.

While it’s important not to dwell on our past mistakes, that doesn’t mean we never look back. We need to.

For it is only when we peer into the rearview mirror of life that we can see the hand of God more clearly than we could at the time, when doubts and despair, like dust swirling through the air, cloud our perspective. 

I look in the rearview mirror and I see ways God provided for my needs—a tank full of heating oil just before winter when we didn’t have the money to buy it, boxes packed with groceries left on our front porch by an anonymous giver at a time we didn’t have two nickels to rub together, money for gas so I could drive to Alabama to see my mother one more time before she died. Oh, I could go on and on and on . . . but you get the idea.

In the rearview mirror I see God’s faithfulness, deliverance, presence, protection, and provision.

What I don’t see in the rearview mirror are my mistakes, my sins. For God has removed them from me “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). If God forgave me and remembers my sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34), why should I remember and beat myself up about it?

I often quote St. Paul, who wrote that he forgets what’s behind and reaches for what’s ahead (Philippians 3:13). He left behind his utter failure to meet up to God’s standards on his own. 

And so we, too, should forget our failures.

But God wants us to remember the good things—His able protection, His abundant provision, His abiding presence. Why else would He command the Israelites to set up a memorial with stones from the Jordan River (Joshua 4), to observe the Passover Feast, to never forget the many ways He delivered them from the time He saved them from the Egyptians to the time they entered the Promised Land, 40 years later?

Why else would Jesus say at the Last Supper over the bread and the wine, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19)?

What do you see when you look in the rearview mirror of your life? 

Thank you, God, for what I see in the rearview mirror. Amen.

Read and reflect on Joshua 4.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Under the Broom Tree

What are you doing here?” – 1 Kings 19:9 (NIV)

“I have had enough, LORD,” Elijah whined as he dropped under the broom tree, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4).

What was it that reduced a powerful man of God to a sniveling wimp cowering in the caves of the Mid-Eastern wilderness? He’d just come off an astounding victory against 850 false prophets in a daylong mountaintop duel, then ran 16 miles, on supernatural strength, preceding the thundercloud that would end a three-and-a-half-year drought.

Why, after such a dazzling display of God’s power, was he ready to throw in the mantle?

An evil queen threatened to kill him.

So why didn’t he trust God to take care of this situation, as he had all the other times?

Because Elijah was human. Because he was discouraged and depressed. The Mount Carmel victory wasn’t a shutout. Queen Jezebel, although she lost all her prophet puppets, still spewed evil from the throne. The source of the nation’s corruption was still alive and threatening.

Discouragement and depression can weaken the strongest—even those who count on God to provide victory against a world of sin. Elijah was in the midst of an effective, powerful ministry when he fled.

Perhaps he thought the Mount Carmel episode would put an end to the depravity that blighted Israel. Perhaps he thought he’d finally “arrived”—and was, by his own words, “better than my ancestors.” Perhaps he forgot that the miracles wrought and the triumphs won were not achieved through his own power. He was but a conduit of El Shaddai.

What he didn’t see was that his ministry wasn’t an end in itself—it was a link in a chain.

God, in His mercy and compassion, was gentle with his overwrought servant. First He sent an angel to nourish Elijah’s worn-out body. Then, after Elijah plodded hundreds of wilderness miles on foot, after 40 days and 40 nights with no food, as he huddled in a dark, damp cave on Mount Horeb, God asked him a simple question: “What are you doing here?”

The omniscient God didn’t ask because He needed an answer. When God asks a question, it’s because He wants to point something out to us.

Elijah had abandoned the ministry field and was in full retreat. Rather than chastise the discouraged prophet, God reminded him that, contrary to what he thought, he was not alone: seven thousand Israelites remained faithful.

“Go back,” God commanded Elijah. Then He gave him a vision for the future: two others would provide political leadership in the next generation, and Elijah would be given an assistant, a prophet-in-training to take over when the time came to pass on the mantle of ministry.

I, too, can get so discouraged at times I want to quit— quit teaching Bible study, quit writing, quit the ministries God has called me to. I don’t see the results I expect for all my efforts, and it seems I’m expending precious time and energy for nothing.

Ministry is a heavy mantle, and God has called us all to be His ministers in one way or another (Matthew 25:35–40; 28:18–20). Times of deep discouragement and despair will come, and our wilderness caves invite us to retreat in self-imposed solitary confinement.

But the One who called us will not leave us there alone. He will nourish us, comfort us, encourage us, and, when we are ready, send us back to the ministry He has called us to.

Thank You, Lord, for the wilderness experiences that remind me that You and You alone are the source of the power I need to serve You. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Kings 19.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.