Make These the "Good Old Days"
- 2010 17 Jun
When Donald Trump writes a book, it becomes an instant best seller sought after by businessmen and women from around the world, and all of those wanting insight and desiring the riches of an established billionaire.
We have an even greater source of wisdom, God, through the words of King Solomon (thought to have been the author of Ecclesiastes). He was very much like the Donald Trump of 900 B.C. He had everything a man could desire at his finger tips—money, power, women and wisdom, yet he warns us not to be consumed with yesterday.
Don't long for the ‘good old days,' for you don't know whether they were any better than today (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
Why not? For many of us, those days were great. They were filled with memorable moments and people who we sorely miss. Why wouldn't we want those days back again?
I had a conversation about this subject with a pastor who I used to serve under regarding the days we spent together in youth ministry. We talked about how great it would be to get our team back together, how much fun we would have, and all of the things we can do together "for God." At the end of our conversation, we sadly, but gratefully, concluded we can (and are) probably doing more for his kingdom apart from each other than we can together. It wouldn't be the same anyway—a different church, different kids and a different time and place.
Solomon confirmed our thoughts on the latter part of the passage. We don't know if the past would be any better than today, so why wish for something that can never be or for something we cannot determine?
For some, today can't be any worse than yesterday, the thought of the past often surfaces pain, broken promises, sadness and regret. Many don't long for the good old days, but are rather troubled by them and continue to "relive" them through the scars and baggage they carried away from them. Some live preoccupied with too many "what ifs," "if only," and "I should haves."
What if I went to college, if only I had the guts to approach that person, what if I took that job and moved, I should have bought or sold that stock, what if…?
There's nothing wrong with thinking about the past, but there is a huge difference between "reminiscing" over (and learning from) and "longing" for (or letting it consume you).
When we long for or allow something from our past to take over our thinking, we get stuck in it, maybe not physically, but internally and emotionally. Our life begins to revolve around something that had happened or something that was missed out upon.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past (Isaiah 43:18).
Many years ago, I was presented with a question, "If your life was a cruise ship, which direction would your deck chair face?" It seemed like an innocent and simple enough question off hand, but your response can say a lot about you and where you are.
Would you place your chair in the bow (front) watching for what's coming ahead with the breeze in your face, would it be on the side of the ship watching the world go by, or would you sit in the stern (back) more protected from the elements watching the ship's wake?
At different times in our lives we may visit all three locations, but each of us has a tendency to "live" in one part more than the other.
If we choose the bow, we look to guide the direction we want to go and take a proactive role in our future. We can see trouble coming in order to ward off potential danger. We face the wind and the spray of the bow crashing through the water, but we also live with our eyes on the horizon ahead able to deal with life as it comes.
If we faced our chair on the side, we would watch other ships go by without any real sense of where we were heading. We have a beautiful view, and that's exactly what it would be, a "view." We would be a spectator on the ship of life.
Finally, there are those who feel the most comfortable sitting on the stern of the ship where we are sheltered from the conditions; however we only see the places we have been. We have no indication or clue as to where we are going or any danger that lurks ahead. We take life for what is handed to us, mostly going along for the ride.
In the1997 movie, Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Jack Dawson, takes his love interest, Rose DeWitt Bukater to the front of the ship. He leans forward off the bow proclaiming, "I am king of the world," and he encourages her to experience what it is like to let go of her appropriateness and inhibitions she grew up with and lives.
That is the imagery I have of someone who has left his past behind, living life with an eye to the future and facing today with anticipation and excitement. Understandably, it is only a movie, but it helps us to visualize and contrast his character with an image of a person sitting on a deck chair in the stern with a blanket over himself going along for a ride.
If you look and long for the good old days or think about what wrongs the past has dealt you, consider how it adversely affects you each day. You are not able to see, experience or enjoy today completely because you are living partially in yesterdays. Solomon was alluding to this when he said, "Don't long for the good old days."
The Lord wants all of us to approach him each and every day with a clean and open heart, not with ghosts, regrets or hardships from the past or harboring ill feelings toward others who have done us wrong.
Matthew encourages us to work through any problems we may have with another person before we approach him.
If you are offering your gift in front of the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).
If you are held captive by or haunted from experiences or people from the past, get help with them, and do it soon. Yesterday is gone. Why live your life thinking, worrying about or carrying "stuff" around from days gone by?
Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).
Life is hard enough when we are committed to today, don't live in or allow yesterday to rob you of the present or damage your future.
I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.
**This article first published on June 17, 2010.