Don’t Look Back: We’re Not Going That Way

The comic actor Marcia Wallace died in September last year. She was best known as the voice of Bart Simpson’s teacher Mrs Edna Krabappel.

I love the title of her autobiography, which I’ve borrowed for this STETS blog post, because it reminds us that the past does not dermine the future. Don’t look back–we’re not going that way.

That viewpoint resonates with me as I read The Lord of the Rings over the Christmas period. When the journey gets tough, and even beyond endurance, Frodo, Sam and the other companions do not look back, or turn back. They treasure the past and reflect on it, and the hobbits in particular are comforted by memories of home, but they press on.

Justo Gonzalez’ deeply practical commentary on Acts (Orbis 2001) writes of Paul’s turn to Europe in Acts 16 that “[difficulties] are sometimes the work of God, who like a shepherd leads where we should go.” He also offers this wonderful quote from William Carey, missionary to India: “There are difficulties everywhere, and even more ahead; therefore, we have no alternative but to continue.” (Gonzalez, 2001: 187)

We dare not sentimentalise Carey’s story, nor Marcia Wallace’s. But it’s helpful to be reminded that difficulties don’t mean we should stop doing what is properly good, and needs to be done.

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