Looking Back and Looking Forward

by Joanna Pierce on December 27, 2017

We’re a few days away from the start of a New Year. We see the dawn of a new year and are optimistic toward the potential it can bring into our lives. But, it’s also gives us a sense of closure and moves us to take a moment to look back at the year we’ve just endured.

For me, a bit of nostalgia ensues because I love reminiscing. No, I don’t go to Facebook to see my year in review, Instagram, or Snapchat. I pull out the old, hard-bound family albums, flip through the pages, and mentally try to take myself back to the moment in time frozen in the photographs. What a year; what an experience; what a story!

I’ll even take it a step further and pull out multiple albums and start making comparisons to what our family looked like 2 years ago, and then at 5 years ago. We’ve come a long way. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve made it one more year.

But, our pictures are just moments in time that don’t capture every experience of our lives. The truth is: there are times of hardship, tears, and emotional trauma that have happened between the clicks of the camera’s lens. I can be honest and say when I look at those pictures my mind drifts to the events between the images, what the camera hasn’t immortalized.

If I’m not careful, I’ll dwell too much on the not-so happy times, the mistakes I’ve made, and the dilemma’s I’ve endured. Very quickly, the year of laughs and happy memories can turn into a year of disappointment. And, that sense can follow me into my bright and cheery New Year with Jesus.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13–14, KJV).

Don’t get me wrong—reminiscing isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not to be the central focus of our year. We’ve all lived this past year. We’re not perfect, we’ve messed up, and there are a million things—given the chance—we’d probably do differently. But, Scripture admonishes us to look forward, not behind. Look to and toward the New Year.

Scripture tells us to be thankful for every trial because it builds good things in us (James 1:2–3). What’s not captured between the photographs is what helps to make more happy memories in the future. The year we’ve had is to shape us and to prepare us for what’s coming ahead—what we are to do with the Lord Jesus Christ in the year to come.

A dear sister once told me that we need to get a vision of what we’re praying for. And, once we’ve visualized it, we need to praise Jesus for it! I don’t have my photo album for the next year filled out yet, but I can imagine it in my mind. I can see what God is going to do in the New Year, what He’ll do with me and through me, how He’ll bless my loved ones, and then I can glorify Him for the year ahead.

As the New Year crests, pull out your mental photo album, and start looking ahead. Don’t give up and throw out the old albums if they weren’t everything you’d hoped they’d be. Remember to look ahead toward Jesus and get ready for the new pictures He’s about to take in your life.