Reflection can be painful. It can drag you down into what you wished had happened, or where you mis-stepped, or where you failed. Without perspective, reflection can be unhealthy and it can often cause my mind to spin. If I think of reflection in terms of what I see in the mirror, I can often see age and lines and failure. However, reflection can also be good for your soul. If I look deeper, I can see that the lines on my face are the workings of God in my life, regardless of my circumstances. Reflection can be superficial or consciously aware. When we reflect or look at something in hindsight, we have the distinct opportunity to see how God has moved or worked in our lives, but we have to look deep enough.
I never answer calls when a number and not a name pops up. But one time I did. We had recently moved to a new town and had attempted to change church locations. ‘Attempted’ because we were all more comfortable at the previous church location. The kids and I were on a brief vacation mid-summer and I was sitting by the pool, while they were out and about. My phone rang and I did not recognize the number but I, uncharacteristically, answered the call. A voice on the other end said, “My name is Mike (fictitious name to protect the innocent) and I am the high school pastor at Said Church (the one we attempted). I notice that your daughter signed up for summer camp with her home church as Said Church but that she requested roommates from Previous Location Church. If she lets me put her with roommates from Said Church, she will meet people who will attend the same high school in the fall.” I said, “I don’t know, I will have to ask her and…”, then Emma walks up, coincidentally. To shorten the story, Emma quickly and willingly agreed to room with strangers from Said Church at high school summer camp and she was quickly ushered into a tight and supportive community, one I had always hoped my kids would enjoy. A couple weeks later, the same scenario happened with my son, Cole, in the junior high group at Said Church.
I have had the opportunity to share this story many times, in the light of what came next. You see, about 6 months after I answered that call, which ushered my kids and myself into a local, loving and tight-knit church community, my world, as I knew it, changed. And as a result, my kid’s world changed. It was a shocking change and one I did not see coming, but when I knew my kids would need more support than they ever had, we were ingrained in a community like we had never been before. The first people I contacted, even while reeling, were the two youth pastors from Said Church that had enveloped my kids. And in hindsight, I got to see how God had set us up to stay afloat.
Hindsight: understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.
I would define hindsight as conscious reflection. Even in the midst of one of the hardest seasons in my life, I was able to see, in hindsight, the hand of God in our lives. I would be in a completely different place today, had I not answered that phone. In the midst of our hardest trials, we need to take a moment to look in the rear view mirror, just a bit, to understand what happened behind that caused us to be where we are. Not where we are in the trial, but where we have been ‘set up’ to be. Do we consider all that God does behind the scenes in our lives that can set us up to weather what He knows is coming? It’s easy to get caught in the muck, but hindsight can provide us with perspective. And in order to have perspective we must reflect in a conscious and purposeful manner.
I love this passage from Psalms: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalms 77:7-12
Now, in the midst of trials and reflection, our humanness often leans toward the sentiments in the first half of this passage, however, notice the flip in the middle. In the midst of feeling broken and hurt, Asaph, the Psalm’s author, makes a conscious decision to look at what the Lord had done in his life and to focus on the wonderful history he had with the Lord. That is a conscious reflection. And that reflection can carry us through the muck, even lift us out of the muck. Conscious reflection and the awareness of His hand in our lives has saved me and kept me afloat. And for that, everyday, I am grateful.
By His Grace