“I suppose I shouldn’t look back,” my friend said, reminiscing about skiing with her husband in the early years of her marriage—something that, years later, seems a foolish indulgence. Ministry, family, financial pressures all combine to make her older, her outlook wiser and more realistic ...
Or is it?
I thought about her words for a moment. “Why not? I asked. “Be glad you have those memories to look back on.”
Am I suggesting she waste valuable time mooning over a past that she can’t bring back? Absolutely not. There’s a balance to be struck, after all. “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’” Solomon admonishes in Ecclesiastes. We do ourselves no favors to be so mired in the past we can’t function in the present.
On the other hand, our past and our memories of it are exactly that—ours. They’re part of the fabric of who we are, another element in the tapestry that God promises He will work together for our good.
I wonder if it isn’t time for us to stop feeling guilty about where our pasts have led us.
If it was sin, then call it so—lay it before God and move on. But the blessings we enjoyed? Wouldn’t it be better to do as the recent worship song says, take every blessing He's poured out and offer it in praise?
And not only for past blessings, but present ones.
“When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God....lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up....then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth ...” (Deuteronomy 7:10-14, 17-18)
The last thing any of us wants is to be in a place down the road where we are asking ourselves, Why were the former days better...? I don’t believe in a prosperity gospel or in formulas that guarantee desired outcomes of our Christian life. But could it be that it’s the practice of reveling in God who is blessing us, and not just in the blessings themselves, that keeps us in the place of blessing? Or that God brings us to those places of dryness to make us lift our heads and remember that all blessings are from His hand, whether past or present?
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.
...Shall we indeed accept good from God,
and shall we not accept adversity?”
In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 1:21, 2:10)