There’s an old saying that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them. It’s not as if every age has new problems to face; the same repeating cycle of sin, despair, hope and restoration dogs every generation and strata of society. It is distressing to see people falling for the same old temptation of the devil and cycling through sickness of body and soul to emotional disgust, and finally to recognize the safeguards of godly morals.
Undergirding this repetitious carousel is the same old human nature from Adam that doesn’t change with education, sophistry or moral rectitude. Parents recognize this in adolescents who see guidelines set by parents and the past as a barrier to freedom. For many, independence, questioning authority, or experimenting with life is a mark of courage and advancement in learning how to live.
The wisdom that looking back clarifies the future is common knowledge, although mostly ignored. Much wisdom of the past is learned from experience—preferably someone else’s—and provides a great deal of good guidance, but it can only marginally help our journey on earth. And no insight from history can prepare us for our ultimate destiny.
Looking up, therefore, has greater benefit for guiding the future than looking back. History tells us humankind has always sensed this in the ubiquitous search for something beyond what our senses experience. And surely, the infinite extent of eternity over time measures the importance of the next life compared with this. Yet in this “advanced” age, the greater majority of earth dwellers now live as if there is no ultimate reality. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Looking above for wisdom, infinitely greater than ours, will give us the clearest view of the future, enhancing whatever perception the past teaches us. While ensuring peace with God to enter eternity with Him is our first priority, persevering with Him through any future storms of this life is also the legacy offered us. Looking forward with Him provides direction and security for this life that no earthly wisdom can, “for the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthian 1:25).
Let’s look back with insight, but look forward with the joy of faith in God that begins by looking up.