The Backward Look

The 20-20 Hindsight of Heaven (and Hopefully of Maturity on Earth)

Life is lived forward but understood backward. I value that insight from Kierkegaard. In the moment, we rarely understand the significance of what we just did and said, nor the ripples that are set in motion.

In the moment, we rarely discern the work of God taking place—whether that work is spectacular or hidden—because the real results rarely emerge until later. Sometimes MUCH later.

Later, as we look, having gained some distance and some perspective, as well as the high altitude vantage point, sense and meaning appear. “Oh, so that is what God was up to! Ah, now I see why that needed to happen. Hmm, so much more was going on than I thought. Now I begin to see. Soon I hope to understand.”

Here is what is truly fascinating (and redemptive). It is the backward look that actually begins to recreate the past. With new eyes, a new heart, a new passion, a new destination, we actually reframe the past, like Joseph did with his brothers (Genesis 50:19-21). What humans had meant for evil, God had intended for God and redeemed it for good (Romans 8:28-39). God is always redeeming all things.

And doesn’t the most beautiful and longed for redemption happen to the most horrible and feared of evil? The greater the fierce evil, the more glorious its redeeming!

Which is why YOU are so glorious. Which is why Paul the chief of sinners became Paul the greatest of apostolic saints. Fear no evil as ever being beyond the love of God to enter and transform!

So, as a Christian, I look back on all that has been wrong, messy, broken, and bad and now see those evils in a new light. One day, from heaven, we will see all things in the light of the eternal City of God, which has no need of a sun, for it has the light of the SON.

That is why the words of the great saint Teresa of Avila say (paraphrased), “From the view of heaven, even the worst life on earth will be considered nothing more than a night spent in an inconvenient hostel.”

Fear no evil. Today we can live in faith, hope, love—with some joy and peace thrown in for good measure.

Pastor Brian


Brian Rice