The house is glowing with warm anticipation of the holidays (holy days) ahead, and as I sit looking at our nativity and thanking our Lord this morning, it came to me that life is very much like a giant teeter-totter. Does anyone today even know what a teeter-totter is? Oh, how I loved teetering with my friends as a child. I loved that sense of daring as I flew to the top hanging on for dear life, but I loved that tiny sense of control (of sorts) and security as I felt my feet hit the ground as well. And just like teetering, life itself is filled with ups and downs.
This morning as I thought about the joyful days ahead, I found myself also looking back. We often hear that we need to keep our focus on our goal and never look back, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes it feels as though the goal is unattainable and that no progress has been made at all. That is when it is imperative that we look back to see how far we’ve come. Not to become smug about it, but to gain perspective and courage to realize our effort is not in vain if we do not give up.
The bad thing about looking back is seeing all the mistakes we’ve made and wrong choices and things we wish we could undo. We must be careful that Satan doesn’t overwhelm us with a sense of hopelessness and lack of worth, because the good news is that when we are a child of God, all the past has been forgiven and we can let God, our Father deal with it. Our hope is in the fact that we have the whole future ahead of us to do better and to make less bad choices, and knowing that when we confessed our sinfulness to God and asked His forgiveness, He not only forgave all the wrong we had done, but He forgave all the wrong we WOULD DO! In the future! That is NOT a license to do as we please, because if that is our heart, then we are not forgiven! He knows the sincerity of our hearts—there is NO fooling with God! So we must keep the past in perspective and use it as our ‘step up’. That is when God is able to make even our wrong choices useful. Nothing is wasted with God!
As the New Year approaches, we often start thinking of new resolutions and ways we want to improve who we are and what we want to accomplish in the future. But it’s good to also look back—to take a measure of past accomplishments as well as failures, to keep our lives in a good perspective, but also to see the things God has done in our lives. And today, as I look at that babe in the manger, I can’t help but wonder: WHY did you care for one such as me? WHY did you love me enough to forgive me and accept me as one of Your own? WHY did you suffer life as a human and even die on the cross when You didn’t have to? It’s a love I cannot grasp, but it’s a love that fills my heart with true THANKSGIVING.