You know how it is when you notice a particular car and then see it everywhere? For me, it’s a green Chrysler Intrepid. Every time I see it I’m reminded of a February evening 11 years ago. As I came to a red light, I glanced in my mirror and saw an Intrepid approaching. Then I felt an incredible jolt. My body hit the steering wheel and my head bounced back and forth like one of those crash test dummies.
I had been driving to Vancouver every day to be with my son, who had been born eight weeks premature. My car accident made things complicated. I couldn’t hold my son without pain, even though he weighed so little.
Some ladies from The Salvation Army came to the ward with stuffed animals and Scriptures. I received Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (NIV). I just couldn’t relate to looking ahead with a positive outlook. Instead, I continued to look back on my less than favourable situation.
A year and a half passed and my son’s condition left me feeling drained and hopeless. The accident had added more busyness to my life with appointments and the stress of attempting to recover while managing a family of six. How could this be part of God’s plan for our lives? How could we look forward to our future? What did hope look like?
At 18 months, my son Josh received a pacemaker. God had given us renewed hope, but I was still stuck looking in my figurative rear-view mirror. Instead of remembering His promise to me in Jeremiah, I re-visited my stress, uncertainty, and fear of losing my son. When God spoke to Jeremiah, He was reminding the people of Judah that He wanted to bless them, not harm them. The same is true for us today. Whatever the circumstances of our life, whatever important and life-changing decisions we face, God is in control of our future. When we find ourselves dealing with suffering and hardship, His plans have not changed. We just might not understand His purposes at the time. In Romans 8:28 He reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” We can be confident that God will keep that promise.
Our habit of looking back in life’s rear-view mirror can put us on a collision course. We can lose sight of God’s steadfast grip in our life. But the reality is that despite our circumstances or how we feel about them, God has a plan for our lives—one that is filled with hope and blessings.
This leaves us with a choice. We can choose to set our eyes on God and stop looking at the rear-view mirror, or we can depend on our own strength. No matter what our situation, we can ask Him for strength, wisdom, and direction. He pours His peace, comfort, and hope into our life as we lean on Him. Psalm 46:1 reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” No matter how you’re feeling the truth is we are never alone and we can depend on God in all of our everyday stuff. He gives us everything we need to move forward with complete confidence in Him.
Soon Josh will have his pacemaker removed. He is a happy and healthy 11-year-old boy. I‘ve recovered from my injuries from the accident and enjoy long walks, family time, and sharing about God’s goodness. Our past shapes us and helps us to grow. But there’s no point to living life looking through the rear-view mirror.