January was named after the Roman mythological god, Janus. Janus had eyes in the front and back of his head. Thus, he was supposed to be able to look backward and forward at the same time.
No doubt, you have noticed we humans are not designed like Janus. Our eyes are only on the front of our head.
Perhaps there is a lesson in that bit of anatomy. God made us to look forward.
We must turn our head to look backward. God fashioned us so that it is much more difficult to look backward than forward. Despite that truth, we spend lots of time looking back. We look at “how we have always done it.” We look at “the good old days.”
Surely, we ought to remember the past and learn from it; but memory is the faculty that should be engaged, not vision. Memory, however, can be faulty. We tend to remember things as we think they were rather than truthfully.
One hurting pastor quipped, “All our church’s former pastors were perfect. My people have told me so.”
There are many practical reasons not to look backward. Not only do we remember it through rose-colored glasses, but we cannot change the past. It is water under the bridge, spilt milk.
One reason we like to look back rather than forward is because it is easier. We can see the past (at least we think we can) but not the future. Jesus noted most people choose the broad easy path rather than the narrow way (Matthew 7:13).
My words here are more than quaint instructions for a new year. These words are directives from God’s word:
- The wise King Solomon said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
- The Apostle Paul penned “Forgetting what lies behind, I press forward” (Philippians 3:13ff).
- Jesus observed, “Anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9: 62).
Don’t take my word for it. Follow God’s word.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and move confidently into the New Year. God is in it.