Lessons from Back to the Future
by James N. Watkins
Posted: October 21, 2015
Helpful advice as we navigate into the future…
OCT 21 2015 4:29 PM
That’s the date on the tricked-out DeLorean’s dashboard when Marty McFly and Doc Brown land thirty years into the future—today! It’s one of my favorite movies series, and the title provides some helpful advice as we try to navigate our way into the future.
Since we can’t see one single nanosecond into the future, we back into the future, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have direction. I love what Philip Yancey writes in the booklet Guidance (Multnomah, 1983):
I had always thought of guidance as forward-looking. We keep praying, hoping, counting on God to reveal what we should do next. In my own experience, at least, I have found the direction to be reversed.
For me, guidance becomes clear only as I look backward. At the moment, my future is a big blur. Guidance becomes evident only when I look back, months and years later. Then the circuitous process falls into place and the hand of God seems clear. But at the moment of decision, I feel mainly confusion and uncertainty
Like Yancey, I have to look back to see the future. Let me chart it out. I’ve done a lot of different things. Everything from performing magic at community events to being a hair model at beauty seminars to putting raisins in Raisin Bran to writing and speaking. But there seems to be a trajectory, a linear pattern.
Writing and speaking keep showing up throughout my life. As I back into the future, I can line up where I seem to be headed by the stakes of the past.
Not looking forward does not mean not moving. It simply acknowledges we can’t see the future. But by looking back at what seems to have worked in the past and the present—and which God seems to be blessing—we can move forward in the right direction, even if we can’t see what’s ahead. So keep your back to the future—but keeping moving!
And I do hope, as Marty saw in the future, the Cubs win the World Series!
Editor's note (October 22). Sadly for Cubs fans, and despite the best hopes of Jim Watkins and Greg Asimakoupoulos (Rhymes & Reasons), the Cubs World Series dreams were dashed by a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets on the evening of the Back to the Future prediction.
Jim Watkins is a humorist, author, and speaker who says of himself that he "loves God, his family, writing, speaking and Chinese food—in that order"• Author bio (website*) • E-mail the author (moc.sniktawsemaj@mij*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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