Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, October 29, 2023

I had been in a sleep-deprived state for two nights in a row, so when I saw this sign, I thought my grogginess was to blame for what seemed a nonsensical jumble of letters. I kept walking, then turned around and walked back to it, blinked a few times to clear my vision, and realized I was looking at a sign printed backwards.

It seemed very important, with white letters on a bright red background, and the last word written in all capital letters, so I puzzled for a few seconds as to why it seemed deliberately designed to be difficult to read.

And then I understood that it wasn’t written for me; it was apparently written for drivers who were backing their vehicles into this space and would be reading the sign clearly in their rear view mirrors.

As I’ve mulled over this sign in the week since I first saw it, it reminded me of a wise saying I collected in my youth. Always a lover of words, I had printed out several wise sayings on a Dymo Label Maker and affixed them to the inside of my high school locker door. The one I thought of this week is the only one I remember from those long-ago teenage years:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

I remember that it was comforting to me then, that no matter how confusing or muddled life might seem (anyone else remember their teenage years?), that there was structure and meaning to it all, if I could just hang on long enough to look backward and understand the plan!

It helped a lot to grow up in a small, loving church family that believed in a God who actively cared for each of us and all of us, and was in our midst. While I was beginning to learn how to read and understand the Bible, I could look to these adults as people who had placed their faith in a God who would never leave them, no matter what troubled times they weathered through.

And now I am one of those adults, and have been for a long time. I still lean in to hear God’s voice, to seek His guidance, His blessing for the path ahead. At times I am baffled as to why things happen as they do (or don’t), and long for more understanding.

Always, always, it comes down to that small yet huge word, Trust. As I read His Word and ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand it, God cultivates in me a deeper trust in who He is, what He’s actually like, with all the devil’s lies about Him stripped away.

As we walk into this brand-new week, we can look backward to see how He has lovingly provided for us, protected us, given us grace, multiplied His mercies – and be encouraged to keep moving forward, close beside Him, all the way Home.