Sometimes I look back in envy at biblical figures who were chosen to interact directly with the Almighty – from Adam to Zechariah. We only have a 2,000-year-old book, prayer and intuition to rely on, but if they had a question to ask God, they only had to tap Him on the shoulder and let it fly.
But sometimes I wonder if giants of the Bible like Peter, John and Moses ever envy us. After all, God’s plan from creation to redemption is fully revealed to us. We can look at the whole story as one, and put things in their proper perspective. We have generations of scholars who’ve immersed themselves in these sacred teachings, and they’re eager to tell us exactly what they think a Bible verse means and what it means for our lives. (Not that they always agree, of course.)
Most of the time, the heroes of the Bible probably had no idea what they were doing or why. They didn’t even realize who Jesus was when they knew Him personally. In so many cases, they were given great chances for holiness, and they completely blew it.
And it wasn’t until much later, and with the benefit of hindsight and perspective, that they realized the errors of their ways.
Hmmmm. Sounds pretty familiar, actually. I’m sure glad there isn’t a quartet of gospeliers shadowing me and recording my every foible and mis-step for future believers to learn how not to do things (or is there?).
God gives me great chances for holiness, and I very regularly muck it up. What’s worse, I’m not usually aware that I’ve blown it until I look at events through the 20/20 goggles of hindsight. Why would I think I’d have done any better if I wore the sandals of Thomas, Samson or David?
But thankfully, the ability to look back on how we’ve bungled things is not the only thing hindsight is good for – otherwise, it would be a pretty bittersweet gift. Another application of the clarity of a rear-view mirror greatly overwhelms the downside.
1950s radio personality and witticist Oscar Levant once remarked that happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember. I’m not sure that’s entirely true about happiness, but it often applies to holiness.
It’s often only with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight that I see the Father’s hand at work in my life. I look back on events – from the profound to the profoundly mundane – and see that seemingly random occurrences were anything but. I look back on tough periods in my life and realize how impossible it would have been for me to get through them alone.
Hindsight is a great gift indeed.
I thought it might be worth telling you a few stories from my life where this is the case, and slapping them into a series of Disciplehood blog entries. So stay tuned.
In the meantime, peace be with you.