One of the common driving related phrases people use is, “Just keep looking ahead. Don’t spend your time looking in your rear-view mirror. You aren’t going backwards. Keep looking forward.” This is largely true of course. When you are driving, you want to spend most of your time looking forward. That is the direction you are heading, so it should consume most of your time. People who spend more time looking behind themselves are dangerous drivers.
I think most of the time when people tell you to not spend a lot of time looking in the mirror on the journey of life they mean that you shouldn’t let your past control you. I get that. Whether your past is glorious or gross, it is not your future. So you shouldn’t take time and focus away from where you are going to dwell on what you’ve left. But it is possible that in the process we have become ‘anti-mirrors’. Perhaps we have forgotten the value of mirrors.
Mirrors serve several purposes in your driving... and in your life journey.
Mirrors help you make better decisions by giving you an awareness about what is going on around you. As you drive, you will need to switch lanes from time to time. In order to switch lanes safely, you need to know what is going on in the other lane. When you change lanes, it isn’t critical to see that there is no one in front of you. You need to know that no one is coming up alongside of you. Mirrors help you know this. Without mirrors you would probably spend a lot of time running into other people.
Mirrors help you see if anything is coming up behind you. You’ve probably been in a situation where an emergency vehicle is trying to move quickly through an area, but they can’t because someone doesn’t realize they are there. Somehow they cannot hear the siren, and because they never check their mirrors, they don’t see the flashing lights. Mirrors don’t just help you see ambulances and fire trucks, but they also allow you to see when some idiot is weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds. This can help you prepare for what is coming.
Mirrors show you what you are leaving. As a child I remember visiting my grandfather. When we would leave, he would stand out in the middle of the street and wave goodbye until we turned off of his road. We children could turn around in the back seat and wave through the back window, watching his tall thin frame become smaller and smaller. But my dad could not do that. He would catch long views through his mirror. He had to make the most of his mirror because that was his way of keeping in touch with what we were leaving.
Most of the time you just glance at your mirrors. But when you need to make a change in your direction, you spend more time focusing on what the mirrors tell you about your surroundings. Some people apparently never use their mirrors. When a person does not use the available tools to help them navigate through life, they are basically saying, “I’m the only one that matters on this road.” Not using your mirrors to drive is a selfish thing.
So, mirrors serve a great purpose. Looking at your mirrors does not mean you are fixated on your past. It means you want to be well aware of your surroundings. In life, it is good to check your mirrors. It is counter-intuitive, but in a real sense, they help you go forward safely. Scripture speaks to the idea of how to use (and how to not use) your mirrors on your journey.
“Jesus said, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:62)
“Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced.” (Psalm 105:4-5)
“When Jesus was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made.” (John 2:22)
“Don’t say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ since it is not wise of you to ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
Mirrors have a good purpose. They are not to get all of our attention, but they help to make us better drivers. They help us get to our destination safely. And they help us see where we have been. Use your mirrors wisely today.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.