Nostalgia can be a nice feeling. We love getting nostalgic around special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and funerals. Remembering times-past and reminiscing about days-gone-by is accentuated by the smell of home cooking, watching “grainy” and “black and white” home movies, and looking through scrap books and photo albums of those whom we have loved and lost. It’s like pouring warm syrup over a hot biscuit with too much melted butter — it just makes you feel good all over.
However, sometimes dark clouds can rise from the past and, for a season, joy can be obscured. It is during those times that nostalgia can turn into noxious, poisonous thoughts.
We must all understand that the past is exactly that — past: Past memory… Past history… Past glory. Whether we celebrate it or mourn it, the one thing we can never do is re-live it. The past is over forever… it can never be brought back. It makes me sad to see people trying to reinvent that which was good, but is now gone. One person said it well…
“The past is prologue.”
We can be thankful to God for the journey that has brought us forward in the will of God, but we have to make up our minds to go on with God. We have to resist the urge to live in a past that only has the potential to corrupt, crush, and enslave us.
American journalist, playwright, and politician Clare Booth Luce once said…
Take your hats off to the past, but take your coats off to the future.
While we can “take off our hats” and show respect to the past, and those who have gone before us, it is our task at hands to “take off our coats”, roll up our sleeves, and get about the business of living in the NOW. I am truly grateful for the three decades I have served the Lord at Abba’s House, and all we have seen God do. Yet, I am glad to continue serving hand-in-hand alongside a group of people who are relentlessly moving forward on a God-given mission.
Speaking of nostalgia, as I write this, I am listening to some music, and an oldie by The Four Tops — “It’s All In The Game” — is now playing. One of the lyrics says…
Many a tear has to fall
But it’s all in the game.
It’s true — our past has good times, bad times, laughter, tears, pain, sorrow, and joy — it’s all part and parcel of life. We all have mess to deal with, but we have to learn to go on. As Bishop Blake of Los Angeles has said, “You’re gonna have some of that…” We all must learn to move forward, and take joy and wisdom from every season of life.
There is a popular song that we sing at my church called Moving Forward, written by Ricardo Sanchez and Israel Houghton. The chorus says…
I’m not going back
I’m moving ahead
Here to declare to You
My past is over in You
All things are made new
Surrendered my life to Christ
I’m moving, moving forward
We are the Army of God. Although we may be advancing on our knees, we should always be advancing, looking forward, watching the horizon… not the rear-view mirror.