Is Hindsight 20/20 ?

This past season was wringing with nostalgia and thoughts of Christmas past. Family members were gathering in search of the perfect Christmas. I experienced a glimpse of this when our adult children wanted to be sure that mom had prepared all their favorite foods (including escargot and Coquilles Saint-Jacques), that the tree was decorated with familiar ornaments (some of them had been handcrafted when they were children!), and that all 22 of “the  stockings were hung by the chimney with care!”

Next Sleepover Ready!

The grandkids had their expectations too! Was the foosball table in the basement uncovered and ready for action like always? Would the recreational equipment be in its place in the canvas storage bins? And yes, it was warm enough this year on Christmas Eve for a little outdoor football game! Others were hoping that their latest school and family pictures were on the refrigerator. Some looked around to see if the peanut brittle, candy canes, small chocolate bars, and other seasonal candy were in their proper places. Their parents with darting glances offered some caution, “Don’t eat too much candy or you won’t be hungry for the meal!”

As I walked down the hallway, I also saw a little nostalgia on the face of our eldest grandson (a college freshman!) and his eleven-year-old sister. They had turned toward the boys’ bedroom where several grands have slept in the same bunk beds as their parents did years before. I imagined the brother reflecting to his sister and saying, “That’s the bed I slept in! Those are my little die cast cars and Tinker Toys in the closet. Everything’s the same!”

I don’t know if those were the words spoken or even if those were the thoughts in that moment. I do know that a lot of things in that bedroom setting remain about as they were some ten to fifteen and even twenty years ago! It’s the thing memories are built on! Just so you know, we’re not intentionally running a museum around here! However, there is a lot of continuity and sameness that has survived the past thirty-two years!

Those who know me know I like organization, predictability, and everything in its place! It’s a burden to bear! Especially for those who must live with me! But complain as they do about how boring I am, they know I can lay my hands on things quickly! And so can they! Things are usually right where they have always been!

There is an old saying or proverb that says, “Hindsight is 20/20.” It’s an expression that means it is easy to understand something after it has happened. This retrospective understanding can be one aspect of the knowledge required to predict future experiences or events. But hindsight is far from infallible! Our perceptions of what we think happened in the past may not be accurate. We know what we know, but it may not line up with fact!

There is another thing that skews our hindsight. Change! As much as I would like things to stay the same, they don’t! We know that the process of advancing age affects everyone from children to youth and young adults and certainly affects seniors! These are the necessary pathways, chapters, or stages of life. This journey we are on impacts our perceptions, expectations, and any predictions we have about the future.

A memorable prayer-song ascribed to Moses says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NLT). We are about to turn the page to another calendar year. This would be a good time for us to ask God for wisdom as we consider our days in light of God’s ways. Our finite and fleeting life is a gift from the infinite and omniscient God. I love the past, but I can’t live in it. I must embrace the future with all its unknown elements and uncertainties. I cannot see things with 20/20 spiritual vision, but I can trust and have faith in the One who not only knows my future, but He is walking with me each day into it.

The old Ira F. Stanphill hymn, that’s been refreshed by several of today’s gospel artists, still encourages me: “I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for its skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, for I know what Jesus said, and today I’ll walk beside him, for he knows what is ahead. Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand; but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand!”

Let’s pause to reflect as we stand on the threshold of 2024. I am praying that God will continue to hold our hands as we walk by His grace each day before us. May you have a blessed and Happy New Year!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.



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