Thursday, August 29, 2019

Experiencing Life from a Rear-Facing Car Seat

The other day I was putting our little grandson’s car seat into our van – again. For safety purposes, not only does it require being tethered by hooks to the passenger seat, but it also must face the rear of the vehicle. While making sure that the infant seat was firmly anchored, I wondered what it must be like for the little guy to always be looking back, never seeing where he’s being taken.

Sometimes going through life seems
like traveling in a rear-facing carseat.
When I was a boy, occasionally my friend and I would go with our fathers to a New York Yankees baseball game in the Bronx. We would ride in his dad’s little station wagon that had a passenger seat in the rear facing backward. My dad would tell us, “Boys, you can’t watch where we’re going – but you can see where we’ve been!”

Now as an adult, I realize much of life is like that. Sometimes we’re facing forward and can easily see where we’re headed. Instructions from our GPS are clear and a specific route is mapped out for us. At other times – it might even seem much of the time – it’s like we’re cruising through life in a rear-facing seat with no clue where we’re headed. All we can see is where we’ve been. That’s not bad if you’re a passenger, but not good if you’re wanting to drive!

But as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight.” We see this throughout the Scriptures. In Genesis we read about Noah building a massive ark to survive a global flood – before mankind had experienced a rainstorm of any kind. We also read about Abram being called by God to leave his country of Haran, without a roadmap or any explanation of why he had to leave. All he knew was that God said, “C’mon, Abram. Time for you and your family to grab your stuff and head out.”

In Exodus we see Moses being chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt for some place called the Promised Land. It’s like a parent telling a child, “Hey, we’re going somewhere special.” “Where, Mom?” “You’ll see!” The entire 11th chapter of Hebrews is littered with brief descriptions of people who didn’t know where God was taking them or why, without any understanding of the trials the Lord would bring them through along the way. Almost as if they were riding on a camel, or in a chariot, facing backward.

Actually, there are two benefits to journeying through life in a rear-facing seat. It teaches us to trust, something we can’t do as well when we can clearly see the path we’re to follow. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”  Often in life our question isn’t, “Are we there yet?” Because we’re not even sure where we are at that moment, much less where we’re going.

A “sister” passage also exhorts us to, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:5-6). Often we have no clue about what God is up to, where He’s taking us, or what He wants us to do when we get there. All we can do is, as the passages tell us, trust.

The other benefit of riding in the rear-facing seat is, as my father would say, we can see where we have been. It helps to look back and recall earlier times when, despite difficulties and even overwhelming odds, God was faithful and brought us through – tested, but not broken.

Hebrews 10:32,35-36 admonishes us, Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering…. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:32,35-36).

Faced with great opposition and murderous threats, King David didn’t like the way things were going. He knew his future was out of his control; it was up to God to intervene and protect him. So he climbed into his rear-facing seat and wrote, I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 143:5).

If you’re facing a hard time right now, whether it’s a struggle within your family, challenges at work, a scary, new phase in your life, or whatever, maybe it’s time to figuratively place yourself in that rear-facing car seat. Ponder what the Lord has done in your life in the past. Know that He is with you in the present. And trust that He’s already guiding you safely into the unknown and unseen future.

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