Wednesday, March 6, 2024

The Rearview Mirror

My An Arkie's Faith column from the March 6, 2024, issue of The Polk County Pulse.

As a windshield installer, one of the things that I am often asked to do is glue the rearview mirror back onto a windshield when it has fallen off.  

One day, a friend of mine came by my shop. “My rearview mirror fell off my Bronco’s windshield. Can you glue it back on,” he asked. I assured him I could and got the rearview mirror adhesive kit off the shelf. After removing the mirror from the windshield bracket, I carefully cleaned and prepped the windshield and the bracket. I used the two-part adhesive and activator to reattach the bracket to the windshield. After the adhesive cured for a few minutes, I reattached the mirror to the windshield.

A few days later, my friend returned his Bronco to the shop. “The rearview mirror has fallen off again,” he said. I glued the bracket back on the windshield and reattached the mirror. I could never figure out the issue with his windshield, but over the time he owned the Bronco, I reattached the rearview mirror four times. The Bronco’s rearview mirror became a running joke with us, and he still gives me a hard time.

Have you ever driven a car without a rearview mirror? It can be uncomfortable. Why do cars have a rearview mirror? Sometimes, we need to know what is behind us.

Do we need a spiritual rearview mirror? Yes, we need to know what is behind us. When Moses presented the Feast of Unleavened Bread to his people, he said, “Remember this day, the day you left Egypt. You were slaves in that land, but the Lord with his great power brought you out of it.” Exodus 13:3 (NCV)

We need to look back and see what God has done for us in the past. It gives us something to base our belief on. God wants us to remember. The word remember is used 230 times in the New King James Version of the Bible.

Psalms 105:5 (VOICE) says, “Remember the wonderful things He has done, His miracles and the wise decisions He has made.” Just like a glance in your car's rearview mirror can put your mind at ease, remembering what God has done for us is very reassuring.

A rearview mirror is excellent for checking out what is happening behind you, but there is something that a rearview mirror isn't good for. Would you want to be on the road with me if I spent all my time looking in the rearview mirror? That would be very dangerous. Spending all our time in the past is also dangerous in our spiritual lives.

In Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT), Paul wrote,” I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Paul says the first step in pressing forward is forgetting what is behind.  We are to remember what God has done for us in the past, but we are to forget our own past. The past can be a terrible enemy.   John MacArthur said about Paul's statement in Philippians 3, "Churches are full of spiritual cripples, paralyzed by the grudges, bitterness, sins, and tragedies of the past.”

Writer Max Lucado likens holding a grudge to being in quicksand. When we have a grudge, we can't seem to get out of its grasp. The more we think about and struggle with it, the deeper we sink. I think the only way we can get ourselves out of the quicksand of holding a grudge is through the power of God. In Ephesians 4:26,27 (NLT), Paul writes, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Our conflict with the devil is hard enough without us intentionally giving him a mighty foothold.  Don’t look in the rearview mirror at all the wrongs done to you.

The Bible makes it clear that Christians should forgive, not hold grudges. In Matthew 6:14-15 (NCV), Jesus says, “If you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.”

Can forgiveness change the past? No. What will forgiveness do? It sets us free from the past so we can move into the future. 

Sometimes, I think that accepting forgiveness is the only thing harder than forgiving. When I was growing up in Colorado, my pastor was Pastor George. I still remember his teaching on the scripture 1 John 1:9 (KJV). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 became my favorite verse.

Over the years, I have come to realize that there is a problem with this verse. The problem is not with the verse but that many Christians don’t believe it. They say they believe, but their actions show they don’t feel forgiven.

In Isaiah 43:25 (NASB), God tells us, “I alone, am the one who wipes out your wrongdoings for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” David wrote in Psalms 103:12 (ISV), “As distant as the east is from the west, that is how far he has removed our sins from us.” And Micah 7:19 (NIRV) says, “You will completely wipe out the evil things we’ve done. You will throw all our sins into the bottom of the sea.”

When you are forgiven, God wipes out your sins; He has removed them as far as the East is from the West and thrown them into the bottom of the sea. Don’t be looking in your rearview mirror for your sins.  

Gentle Reader, we must learn how to use our rearview mirror properly. We need to look back at how God has led in our lives and how he has blessed us. But don’t look back at our sins that God has promised to forgive as we forgive those who have sinned against us. 

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