I want to do a series of blog posts on “Seeing God in the Rear View Mirror.” I could probably just make this one post, but I think there are several different facets of seeing and doing God’s will, that make it worth digging into for several deeper looks at the concept. Much of this is based on my experience, and believe me I understand that this is not what your theology should exist on; but I believe my experience lines up with what you see in Scripture.
I love the story of Abraham in Genesis. If there is one man who exemplifies God’s larger plan for his creation and ultimately the gospel and salvation, it is Abraham. During Abraham’s lifetime, he never saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to make him into a great nation and to bless all the world through him. Of course with the hindsight of the entire revelation of God in the Bible and thousands of years of human history to see, we know that God fulfilled his word to Abraham through the nation of Israel and ultimately Jesus Christ.
I wonder what was going through Abraham’s mind as God tells him in Genesis 12:1-3 to leave everything he knows and go somewhere he doesn’t reveal to him. What we see in Scripture is Abraham’s obedience in verse 4, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” Hebrews 11:8 tells us that it was this obedience that demonstrated Abraham’s faith which is the basis of salvation. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Although this faith is clearly commended, it probably crossed his mind a couple times that his life might not be working out exactly according to his idea of success or even God’s revealed will.
We see this frustration come out when he and Sarah try to get ahead of God’s timing with the story of Abraham and Hagar and the child Ishmael. I think this lack of trust and nervous reliance on God is normal even to those who have demonstrated great faith in their lives. As Abraham progresses in his walk with God and his life, by the time we get to what as a parent would be the hardest test of faith of all time, Abraham obediently steps out to sacrifice his only promised son in response to God’s leading without knowing the outcome. This type of faith is only possible through a backward look – in a rear view mirror – to what God has already done and where trusting him in the past has led you to in the present.
In future posts we will explore what we see when we take this look in the rear view mirror, and I will try to explain how I have seen this play out in my own life to this point.