Reflection is good for the soul. How else can we learn from our mistakes if we don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge that we did wrong and analyze how we can improve? How are we to stay motivated without recognizing our triumphant moments and committing to do whatever it took to get us there in the first place?
History is important to the continued development of man. Sometimes our leaders try to convince us otherwise and I beg to differ. The Bible is history, as well as instruction; it provides the roadmap for godly behavior. Within its pages, we read the stories of men and women who took the righteous path in the face of adverse situations. We see their courage; we hear their commitment. But there are also those who chose the easy road and we learn the consequences for their poor decisions. Through reading about their righteous actions—as well as the evil ones—we learn without having to experience the actual event for ourselves. It’s an efficiency of learning: we learn from our own experiences and we learn from the experiences of others.
There is a caution to be observed as we reflect on our own failures and successes. The exercise is intended to be a learning experience and not something to dwell on, to gloat over or to mourn about. We reflect, we analyze, we move on—with a much improved awareness of what is right and what is wrong in a particular situation.
In Isaiah 30:21, we are given a beautiful reassurance from the mouth of God. “And your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” We are not left to our own devices; we have a Father to guide our footsteps in paths of righteousness. If we but listen to the voice of our Father, we are forever secure.
When I was somewhere around twelve years old, I instigated a very wicked action that involved my friends. We stole a little girl’s doll and I auctioned off the parts to my conspirators. Later I learned that the doll was the last thing the little girl’s father had given her before he was killed by a sniper overseas.
Of course I was horrified to learn that my selfish actions had caused so much pain for another but rationalized it was her fault—she left the doll in my yard. My accusation, however, failed to ease my conscience. I was tormented with a sense of guilt and felt that I was doomed to hell on account of my terrible wickedness.
I was not a Christian at the time, nor did I have the spiritual ears to hear the “word behind me.” So I suffered—in silence, as I could not let anyone know how evil I truly was. That was a heavy burden for a twelve-year old to shoulder alone.
Here’s the thing: Had I at the age of twelve known how to listen to the Father in heaven, I would have been spared the years of guilt and anxiety. Because of the experience, which I will never forget, I have heard the “word behind me” many, many times in the subsequent years, and avoided committing a lot of similar acts of selfishness.
It pays to learn from historical events. Our previous acts of weakness strengthen us for handling a similar problem in the future. Our previous acts of strength encourage us to go on to heights we have not yet attained.