Did You Learn This In Driver’s Ed?

Happy New Year!

I snapped this incredible scene beside the Mississippi River south of La Crosse, Wisconsin during our 1500-mile journey in 2011. I wanted to display the great view of the road over the front wheel of my handcycle, but when I looked at the photo I noticed the presence of the rear view mirror. I remembered a lesson from driver’s education.

You focus mostly on the road ahead. It’s great to cruise down a gorgeous path, appreciate the surroundings, and anticipate what’s around the next corner.

But in riding, and in life, you need to pay a bit of attention to what’s behind. Sometimes more, sometimes less—it’s a question of balance.

I have some friends who are eager to put 2012 behind them. It’s been a difficult twelve months, and they’ll be happy to turn the calendar to a new year and symbolically put this one away. As far as 2012’s concerned, they’d like to ignore the mirror.

I didn’t do much looking back at the end of 2012, but for significantly more positive reasons. The beginning of 2013 is all about looking forward.

A book launch, a bunch of speaking opportunities, a new bike tour in warm, sunny Florida. With all that good stuff on the road before me, I gotta jump into 2013 with an incredible sense of hope, right?

Hope looks forward with confident expectation based on faith in God’s promises.

And there’s the balance. If the hope is real, something more than a wish or a sense of optimism, you need the rear view mirror. That’s what faith does—it looks back, remembers the stories, reminds us of God’s relentless faithfulness.

Sometimes it would be good to have a bigger rear view mirror. At those moments, what’s behind is frightening or dangerous. It makes sense to pay attention.

In life, I think we have those times as well. Maybe the stuff in the mirror is unpleasant and we’d like to ignore it, but I’m not sure that’s wise. Perhaps in those seasons it’s even more important to remember and lean on God’s faithfulness.

Where are you?

Maybe you’re staring fondly in the rear view mirror because the future seems like a fearful, uncertain place.

Maybe you’re plunging blindly ahead, ignoring what you’re learned, focused entirely on your wants rather than God’s desires.

What balance do you need to seek between looking forward and looking back?

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