The god of nostalgia

I finally caught up to my Bible reading plan. I started reading the five day reading plan with a group of friends back in January. I started off with lots of enthusiasm, but the past several weeks I have been playing catch up by reading massive chunks when I am “not busy”. That’s not how the plan is set up and I am not learning a new habit when I do that. But as I was pummeling through Ecclesiastes to catch up yet again on the reading plan, a certain verse stood out to me, and this is the verse:

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions.

I live in the South. We say this all the time. My mom says this, heck even I remember the 90s as better than today. But Solomon in all his wisdom says we shouldn’t say this. But why? Why should we not focus on the “good ol days”? Let’s brake it down. What emotions does comparing the past with your present produce? What fruit of the spirit does it bring forth? A good way of feeling out a command in the Bible is to walk it through in your mind and see what some of the possible outcomes would be if you didn’t obey. In this case, if I live in the past complaining about the present. I get stuck there. I become less thankful. I become less grateful. I can easily conjure up a sense of hopelessness, and what is even more sad is that those around me will never measure up to my warped nostalgia of how things used to be.

As a wife, me remembering of how romantic my new groom was my first year of marriage compared to now, does me and my husband no good. None. It makes us bitter. Comparing him to how I THINK he was in the past, is not fair to him and will make me miserable. My attitude will not be sweet towards him when I think/say how “the good ol days of being a newly wed were so much better”. No, he doesn’t write me poetry anymore, but he sure as heck works his tail off so I never have to worry about paying the bills. And let’s be very honest, I’m no longer the blushing bride I was either. Thinking right now about how we were when we dated makes me giggle. I am so glad I no longer talk to him on the phone for 4 hours a day. Or pass on doing my homework so I can instant message him (yes, I am dating myself). Or not eat because the butterflies in my stomach are in a fluttering frenzy! Eeek! (I should eat less though!) He still surprises me and I surprise him, but he is not the Nathan I married and neither am I the Anna he married, and that’s a good thing. We are more sanctified. Wiser even. Closer to meeting our Maker and learning to die on bigger hills.

Paul encourages us when he writes: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Phil. 3:13). The word “forgetting” here means “to no longer care for” or “to not focus on.” Sometimes focusing on those good ol days keeps us from focusing on the best day that is ahead. Instead of wishing for the return of our Lord, we are wishing for the return of a lost loved one, or a lost moment, or a lost emotion. We begin to play with the idea of what could have been or what should have been. We begin to complain about our current circumstance forgetting the cost of our salvation, forgetting our position before the Throne, forgetting how much closer we are to Heaven, forgetting how much God has done for us.

Nostalgia can be a good thing, but only in the light of our future hope as Believers.

If you struggle with not letting go of the past you will struggle with sadness and even depression. You will unknowingly nurture an ungrateful spirit. My dear brother or sister, God encourages us when he says: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19) The good thing is springing forth, but sometimes we are blinded by the lingering thoughts of nostalgia or of our past life. See how God says, “do you not perceive it”. There is a blindness to good things that happens when we stay stuck remembering the good old days. God then calls our past a wilderness and a wilderness can be admired and breathtaking, but staying there too long can lead to death. God also calls our past a wasteland, and sometimes that is what it is. It does us no good to live there. God has new things for us, even a new you! He is constantly renewing our mind and our thoughts. Focus on Him.

God sent His only begotten Son to die for you not so you would live in the past, but for you to live life now according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28) remembering what He has in store for those who love Him. (I Cor. 2:9) Let your thoughts (Phil. 4:) float towards the realization that you, my fellow Believer, have been selected to be His co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:16-17). And what you do for His Kingdom matters tremendously (Matt. 6:33)because He uses us to call and disciple His elect. (Romans 10:14, Acts 8:31).

What should we not forget:
*God – Remember Him, focus on Him, learn about Him, think about Him, thank Him, love Him (Jer. 29:13)
* The Gospel – Remember what Christ has done for you. (Eph. 2:11-12)
* The Saints – Remember what others do or have done for Christ to help you cultivate a spirit of boldness (Heb. 12:1, Romans 16)
* The Church – Remember the Christians God has placed around you. Love them radically. (I John 2:10)
* The Word – Remember Scripture all the time and let it nourish your soul. (Psalm 119)
* The World – Remember those around you. Show them the love of Christ. (Heb. 13:2, Matt. 25:40)

Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Trust Him, even with your past.


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