The Rearview Mirror

Image by Erin Alder from Pixabay

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 we focus forward and avoid looking back at 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.

As I look in the rearview mirror, 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). What Paul was forgetting was 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. Used with permission.

A Tangled Mess

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV

It was the mother of all yarn tangles.

In 40 years of crocheting, I never experienced the tangled mess that confronted me last week.

We were on our way home from South Carolina after a week-long visit with our daughter and her family, and I planned to work on the poncho I’m making for her as a late birthday present. I’d wanted to finish it while I was there, but other activities—more fun—called me away from my project.

The pattern was rather monotonous—75 rows of one stitch, a single crochet that tended to make progress slow because the rows got longer with each round. It didn’t help that I had to tear out 10 rows because of a wrong stitch that affected the rows following it. Two and a half hours of work unraveled in less than a minute.

But I was determined to finish her gift and finish it right. While it wouldn’t be perfect—I’ve learned to cover most of my mistakes—it would be warm, cozy, and something she asked me to make.

We were two hours into the trip and I was making good progress when the yarn tangled. Now, I’ve had yarn tangles before, but this one was the mother of all yarn tangles. Don’t ask me how it got so hopelessly snarled, but the more I tried to unravel it, the more twisted it became. And it wasn’t just the end of the skein—I’d used only half of the 370-yard skein.

So I snipped the yarn, put the poncho-in-progress in the back seat, and began untangling 185 yards of what resembled a big bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I worked the rest of the 10-hour trip and still hadn’t finished when we arrived home. DH, my usual yarn untangler, unraveled the rest of it in an hour after we’d unpacked.

Crocheting—especially yarn tangles—teaches me a lot about life. Here are 10 principles I’ve learned:

  1. You don’t toss something away because it looks hopelessly messed up. Don’t waste something that, with time and patience, can be made into something good, useful, and beautiful.
  2. Sometimes things just doesn’t go as planned. Indeed, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” So, you recalculate.
  3. It can take only a second to undo years of work. Pick yourself up and begin again.
  4. To get through the rough spots, cultivate determination and perseverance.
  5. Correcting mistakes is important if you want a satisfactory result. Even if it means undoing much of what you’ve done. Even if it means starting all over.
  6. Mistakes CAN be corrected. You just have to want to make them right.
  7. Just because you think your life is monotonous doesn’t mean it isn’t adding up to something worthwhile. Yes, the rows get longer and take more time to complete, but keep the end result in sight to give you the fortitude to push on through the monotony—and maybe even find joy and fulfillment in it.
  8. Slow progress and setbacks teach patience, and patience helps you to persevere to the end.
  9. You’re not alone. I didn’t unravel the mother of all yarn tangles by myself. By the time I got home, I was sick of it. But DH picked it up and finished it. So it is in life. Folks—I call them angels in disguise—come alongside us and help us to the finish line.
  10. You have to learn to accept help. And, even more important, know when to ask for it.

The mother of all yarn tangles now rests as a ball of yarn in my crochet project basket, waiting for its time to be made into something useful.

Thank You, God, that You can take this tangled mess I’ve made and make it into something beautiful. Amen.

Read and meditate on Romans 5:1–5.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.