The longer we live, the more likely we’ll face another obstacle to living in the moment – instead of living in the future we fall into the trap of living in the past. The past is a nice place to visit, but I would not want to live there!
As an American Studies, History/Poli-Sci major, I love reading about people and events in the past. Most of my friends and family find history boring. But I see it as a way to learn about the thread of ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ that led us to where we are today. I find people have not changed much in terms of their desires and hopes, their struggles and heartaches. Whether we are talking about family heritage, country heritage or spiritual heritage, there is a lot to gain from looking back.
It is important to stay connected to the past, to learn from it, to draw meaning from it. Romans 15:4 says “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
LEARN FROM IT – JUST DON’T LIVE THERE
Understanding our past is important because it affects our identity, our perspective and outlook on life. Even Christ, at the Last Supper, said “do this in remembrance of me”. Remember, remember what happened and why; remember the past, but recognize that God did not intend for us to live there. Listen to Philippians 3:13 “Forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Or perhaps even clearer in Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing NEW thing! Now it springs up do you not perceive it?”
Sometimes we have trouble letting go of the past. Maybe we see the past as a time when life was simple and good and we want to stay there. Or maybe our failures loom large and cast a shadow over us making it hard to press on. Or maybe, it is not our failures, but rather the pain someone else has caused us that enslaves us to our past.
Too many of us let ourselves be defined by our past instead of our present. What about the man who finds no joy or purpose in today, but only in reliving his glory days of college football? Or the woman who finds it difficult to be happy because fifteen years earlier she went through a divorce? Or the family who cannot adapt to the changing dynamics as children grow and marry and have children of their own. They want so much for things to stay the same, that they cling to the past at the cost of joy in the present.
Remember that verse in Isaiah? God is looking to do a NEW thing with you. But you will not perceive it if your eyes are focused behind you. We need to shake off the temptation to dwell in the past.
I woke up this morning, into a new day, healing from and celebrating my yesterdays, planning for tomorrow, but choosing to see the NEW thing God is doing with me today, right now, in this moment of time. I do not want to miss it. A day full of opportunity and hope! “This is the day that the Lord has made!”
Coming soon…”the value of a single moment” the final post of this series!