Looking Back and Giving Thanks

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

Recently it was reported that at the end of the 19th century there was one car on the road for every 18,000 people in the United States. Contrastingly, today there are more than 250 million cars and trucks in the United States, or almost one per person.

That being true, most drivers have for their convenience a vision device that assists in safe driving. Having been on the highways quite a bit recently, I am not convinced that all drivers actually utilize this device, but that is another topic for another time.

Along with the large picture window that provides a panoramic-type view of what is ahead of the vehicle, there is a small “magical looking glass” that enables one to actually see what is behind the vehicle. It is called a “rear view mirror,” introduced to automobiles in 1908, then mounted on the dashboard.

Throughout my childhood years I believed those little mirrors were to assist parents in keeping an eye on their children in the backseat of the vehicle! At what age did you realize that parents do not actually have eyes in the backs of their heads? That crazy mirror got me into trouble more times than I care to remember!

Apparently, automobile makers continue to believe that seeing what is behind a vehicle is important. They also realize that the past is not the main focus. Hence, the picture window in the front is much larger than the small rear-looking apparatus. It is small enough that it does not obstruct the view of what is ahead, yet large enough to see at a glance what is behind.

We have ushered in a new year once again to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” for old time’s sake. It is an opportunity to glance in to life’s rear view mirror and reflect on the past as we project for the future. That which is left behind means something; in fact, the past is what brought us to the present. We must not let our memory obstruct our view of the present and future, but it can help us live better in the present and future if we allow it to do so.

Some drivers seem oblivious to what is behind them; and for some people, the beginning of a new year is simply another day on the calendar. I choose, however, to use this time as a check up: to examine my life and values, my blessings and shortfalls, my strengths and needs for improvement.

Living things are in constant development, and thus require continual observation in order to make necessary adjustments as conditions change. I will not set new goals too lofty to attain, or make resolutions that demand more than I can give. Whatever circumstances I face, however, I will determine to be the best that I can be for Christ, for my family, my church, and my community.

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