The Year of Hindsight
By Timothy W. Tron
The spirit rests quietly within my soul. As I sit here in the Solarium on the campus of Appalachian State University, the man-made open space in which plants and trees create a comforting atmosphere of relaxation and respite, the sound of the water cascading into the pools behind me mends the weary being within. It has been a difficult year. The late days of December are upon us, and soon, we will welcome in the new year.
From those whispering echoes of flowing streams, the mind is taken back. I am transported to a place where the tiny rivulets run down granite walls, eventually uniting as one to create a monstrous cataclysm, which crashes, in erupting volumes, into pools below. They eventually pass through a series of boulders until they form gentle pools, which reflect upon the towering walls of the mountainsides nearby. In my mind, I am once again at the foot of Mount Col Pis in the Germanesca valley. Above me, the azure blue sky opens over the snow-clad peaks. Around me, the wildflowers bloom in the early summer, peaking their bright, colorful heads above the patches of snow that remain in this season of early June. In my recollections, I can see below where I stand, the calm of the pool that has formed into a surface of glass between the torrent above and below, allowing the reflection of my person to be seen. There, in the darkness of that pool, an elderly man stares back at me, someone that appears older than he feels. The eyes peer into my soul and my thoughts are riveted back to the here and now. It is as if the very nature of creation speaks to all that is within this scene; how much we can learn by knowing from whence we came, and in that theme, be thankful for all that was, …is, …and that which will be.
Not so long ago, my own world seemed to be spinning out of control. The darkness devoured enough of my life that, at one point, my prayers were simply for God to take me home; my heavenly home. The physical pain of the illness coupled with the preceding months of torment and anguish had come to a head. Many of you can relate. Some of you may even now be feeling these same pressures. Those of you who have suffered from health-related issues, or may still be suffering, can surely empathize. There are those times in life that you feel like just giving up. As someone once wrote in a song, “The darkest hour is just before dawn.”
It is so true.
In those quiet, still, dark predawn hours, when we are the most alone, it is then the prince of darkness seeks us out. Alone we are vulnerable. He causes us to focus on us, on our shortcomings, on what we are incapable of doing by ourselves. This is our fallacy. It is when we are at our weakest when he tries to push us to the point of no return. We were never meant to go it alone, for as Jesus told his disciples, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.“ It is in these darkest hours when there is nothing left, we must fall to our knees. We must plead for God to take over, allowing the Comforter to come within, asking Jesus Christ to come into our lives.
“I must decrease so that He may increase,” wrote John.
And Paul, who knew his share of suffering, would write, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
As the Apostle Paul sat in prison, awaiting trial in Rome, he wrote to the churches and to his disciples, sharing with them the knowledge of the past, and the hope of the future. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”-2Tim.4:7
In a year of hindsight, we have much to look back upon and be thankful.
While we have much to reflect upon, we should also take heart in knowing that through the many trials and persecutions, we have persevered, surviving unto this day to stand as a witness to God’s guidance and protection. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”-Phil.4:12s.
Some may look back and long for, as they say, the good old’ days. Lot’s wife did just that, and in the end, became a pillar of salt. Her downfall was her longing to return to the addictions and sin of her fleshly desires from which they had become accustomed to in Sodom. For us to seek to return from whence we came is not part of God’s plan. Backsliding, as they call it, shows that we have not grown in our faith nor have we released the bondages of many of our former lives. When one has found the beauty of living in Christ, becoming one with the Holy Spirit, and then falls back into the ways of the former life, they are as Paul said, “the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” so vile and blasphemous is the act.
Then there are those that, like those ancient Israelites, with their backs to the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army fast approaching, cried to Moses that their plight was just as easily had been better off if they had remained in Egypt and remained slaves. They too wanted to return to their past, no matter how bad or tortuous it had been. Now, seeing their faith dwindle into cries before their leader, Moses alone reminded them of their recent revelations of miracles that had brought them to this point, the many plagues brought upon Pharaoh. Forcing them to look back in such a short-term recollection was probably not what they expected to be the answer. Yet, in that reflection, there was the guidance. Moses’s intention was mean to focus their attention toward the future, the salvation from death through God’s own hand. As God turned them to face the barrier that had at one point seemed to be their end, the Red Sea, it now became their deliverance. Remarkably, they watched in awe as the mighty sea began to part, opening a vast void. Even more unbelievable was the fact that the ocean floor, which had been submerged under centuries of water, was now blown dry. This was of major importance because, as they escaped, they were not bogged down in the mud and mire. Imagine their instant utter relief as they began to tread upon the ancient seabed and began to flee the wrath of Pharaoh; thus, beginning their long journey to the land of Canaan, to the promised land that God had promised their forefather Abraham.
There was so much more ahead than what was behind. Yet, the Israelites had to be reminded of what they had survived to appreciate what was about to happen, so hardened were their hearts.
Each morning when we are blessed to awaken to a new day, we may face the life we had not imagined nor desired. Illnesses or situations beyond our control may have created a circumstance such that we may be forced to accept the “new normal” of simply living day-to-day. Whereby people’s lives will forever be affected by the sickness or demise for which they must carry until their dying days. Even these people must know that, as did the Apostle Paul, there is a purpose in everything. Like Paul, he took comfort in his afflictions as much as he did in the joys of his ministry. So too, we must learn to embrace those earthly challenges. That which doesn’t kill us will make us stronger, we have often heard.
Walking around a college campus, it is easy to see those who are so consumed by their daily toil of study and academic survival that they lose sight of the blessing unto which they have come. For many, to even be accepted into an institution of higher learning is a feat unto itself. Then those who have spent their entire lives in the classroom, have yet to know what the world is about. Their future is beyond the bindings of the books in which they live. Yet, the one book that provides hope beyond its cover is rarely seen; the Bible. Finding my own path now in a place where there had never before in these recent years, seemed an even remote possibility of returning, has awakened a thankfulness beyond compare. How is it possible? Every day, I seek God’s guidance in showing me my purpose for being here, a college campus. Each day, there is a subtle nuance that chirps of hope like the morning sparrows at sunrise.
In the coming days, we will hear of the challenges and resolutions that come with a new year. This next year, 2020, the year of looking back, let us resolve to grow from our pasts, to regain that lost love of life, and to find God in everything we do. Let us be strengthened from the knowledge of what we have survived and allow that wisdom to bring us closer to seeking each footstep’s direction from our Heavenly guide, our Lord and Savior. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”-Phil.4:4-7
Take time for yourself this year. Find a spot where you can lean back and breathe in all that you’ve known and all that there is before you. Listen to the sounds of a gentle waterfall and be calmed. In everything we do, as we learn from our past, let us give thanks to the one who gave us all that we have, for now, and evermore.
Thanks be to God.
Timothy W. Tron lives in Collettsville, NC. with his family. He is the former Director of the Trail of Faith in Valdese, where he still volunteers and helps with tours. He is the author of a new Christian series, “Children of the LIght”, with the first book being, “Bruecke to Heaven”, and his recent book, being the second, “The Light in the Darkness”. He is an active blogger, artist, and musician. Timothy also has a BSEE from UF, and is a Lay Speaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit his website at //www.timothywtron.com/