(A Devotion from Matthew West based on his song "Day One" (from the album "Live Forever") and Lamentations 3:23)

I read an article in the Washington Post in which a writer had interviewed a high-powered businessman attempting to unlock some of the secrets of his financial success. In the interview, the businessman referenced a scene from an old 1976 movie called The Gumball Rally, a movie about a group of drivers who take part in a secret and illegal cross-country race. The businessman quoted a scene that he felt best described his approach to business. In the scene, an Italian race car driver jumps in the driver's seat of his vehicle and says to the guy in the passenger seat, "And now my friend, the first rule of Italian driving..." then he tears off the rear view mirror, throws it in the backseat and declares, "What's behind me is not important!"

That businessman found the words and actions of the Italian racecar driver to be sound advice in business. I think it's sound advice for life. Don't you just love the Italian's confidence? Notice that by saying "What's behind me is not important," he wasn't denying the fact that there was something behind him. He knew there would be other racecars in hot pursuit. I am sure there were races before that had ended poorly. Yesterday's accidents and collisions could have made him think twice about entering another race. That last place finish a while back could have quieted his confidence. Instead, he made a choice to move forward, not concerning himself with what might have been seen in the rear view mirror.

I've been on this incredible cross-country journey of my own these past few years. Only instead of seeing the world from the view of an Italian racecar, I've been reading stories. True stories. Over 40,000 of them have poured into my website from all over country and all over the world. Many of the stories I read are from the focal point of someone who's looking in the rear view mirror of their life and telling me how what they see behind them is still affecting them today; people who are so beat up about their past that they can't seem to move forward into their future.

In some stories I've read sentences like "I've been sober for 30 days," or, "I haven't self harmed in 73 days." Sentences like these got me thinking about how I tend to look at my own life and spiritual journey in a similar way. It's like I try to see how many days in a row I can go without sinning, or how many days in a row can I go without missing my quiet time, or so on and so forth. When my "perfect streak" ends, (which it always does,) I feel guilty and beat myself up over not being perfect. And then I read a scripture like Lamentations 3:23, and it hits me that my counting of consecutive sinless days is something I don't have to be owned by. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." Every morning? Every morning!

What's behind me is not important!

Every night at my concerts I perform a song called Hello, My Name Is. And right before I play that song, I tell the story that inspired it; the story of a young guy named Jordan who went from all-American athlete to college dropout because of his addiction to pain medication. I show a video where he tells his story in his own words of how he fought his addiction for a year in a recovery program called Teen Challenge and how upon graduation from that program he was readmitted to the college that kicked him out. He tells the audience each night how he has earned his master's degree and now he's a high school teacher and basketball coach. It's an inspiring story and only adds to the victory of the words we sing after, "I AM A CHILD OF THE ONE TRUE KING!"

One night after I got home from a weekend of shows, I opened up my computer to read some new stories that had been submitted at my website. I read one from a young man that went like this: "I was at your show tonight. Truthfully, I only went because my mom begged me to and I needed money from her. See, I'm a drug addict and my life is a mess. I'm at the end of my rope. I saw that story you played about Jordan and I heard that song you sang. It got me thinking that if he can change, maybe I can change too. I need help. Can you help me get that help?"

Well, here's the rest of the story... My dad and I have a ministry called Population WE that is in place to reach back out to people who are hurting. I am so excited to tell you that we were able to get in touch with this young man and today he is currently enrolled in the exact same recovery program that Jordan graduated from. We get regular updates on his progress. He called my dad and I the other day just to say thanks and tell us he's doing great! He's got a long road ahead, and the enemy is not going to lie down without a fight. But this young man made the choice once and for all to rip off the rear view mirror and make a change.

Have you been spending too much time fixated on what you see in your rear view mirror? Have you been caught up in counting the days since your last mistake? I challenge you to commit those words from Lamentations to heart as you step forward into a new year. His mercy is new EVERY MORNING! That means today is day one! And tomorrow? That's day one too. And the day after that? Yep. A fresh start. A new beginning. We can't ignore our past. We can't change it either. But we can make the choice not to dwell on it. We can make the choice to change in a new direction and allow God to show us a today that is brighter than yesterday. I challenge you today to rip off the rear view mirror, find your finest Italian accent, and say it with me, "What's behind me is not important."
[Published 20 May 2015]
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