Looking back and moving forward at the same time is potentially a dizzying business. Our toddler is proof of this. He loves to be chased, but he has a bad habit of looking back while he is running full steam ahead. It makes him laugh so hard not just to know that someone is chasing him, but to also see them in feigned hot pursuit. Despite our best efforts to pause, warn him, grab him, or encourage him to please look where he’s going, occasionally this behavior results in his running into a wall or a chair or some innocent bystander (likely the oblivious preteen who blesses us with his presence from time to time).
Reflection is tough because if we are not careful, we can look back too long and run smack into a wall. Still, reflection is an important practice, especially spiritually, to be able to release, surrender, learn, (re)posture, and move forward. I think that part of the work of glancing backward to go forward is the work of reorientation. We have to keep checking in on our anchor—our focus—our goal in this work.
For me, starting my end of the year reflections in thinking about the word “remove” was a rigorous exercise in orienting myself away from things that happened this year toward God, who once again demonstrated Himself to be in the midst of it all. It is a careful balancing act of accepting my feelings and also choosing to do the work to recognize my character, my opportunities for growth, and my willingness (or lack thereof at times) to surrender even more. The beautiful news in all of this tough work is that God continues to show Himself to be mighty, loving, and strong, especially when I am not. Just as He was to His people in the Old Testament, God is still the God who restores.
“Return to the stronghold, you prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.”Zechariah 9:12 (NASB)
There were indeed things that were lost in this past year; however, looking back also reminds me of the things God restored. Lost keys were found, strained relationships were reconciled, illnesses were cured, diagnoses reversed, income was increased, and more. I can clearly see God’s fingerprints on my life in the places where He returned to bless me beyond my expectations. I pray that for you, this may have been the year that things lost before COVID were returned to you abundantly. And if not, I am still praying with you that you will walk into a season of restoration in the new year.