Tag Archives: remembering the past

The Good Old, Bad Old Days (Job 29-31)

In Job’s final speech to his friends, he talked about the past, the days he enjoyed a prosperous life, when he was able to help the poor with his material wealth. He remembered the strangers who found shelter in his home, and the respect he received from everyone who knew him.

“How I long for the months gone by,” he said in 29:2, “for the days when God watched over me.” In verse 4 he said, “Oh for the days when I was in my prime…” (Well, actually I have said the same a time or two myself!)

Job looked at the past with longing. And many of us do that, too. We remember the good old days, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…

  1. unless we allow our memories to paralyze us. The truth is, life was easier for me before my back problems. Life was more exciting when I had more energy and the future was promising. But today the days of my past outnumber the days of my future. The days of the past were innocent and full of new things to learn. Today my look at the world can be jaded. So, do I sit in my recliner and remember the good old days while ignoring my present and future? Do I find more comfort remembering the past than I do embracing the present and looking ahead to my future?  Isn’t it a waste of precious time to live in the past?
  2. unless our memories are not true. Our minds have a way of inflating the good while diminishing the reality of the ugliness that existed, too. The opposite can be true as well, and can be so destructive if all we remember is the bad. No past is all good, or all bad.

My dad loved being a dad. We five girls were his everything. That is, until we became teenagers, and then adults with minds of our own. That was hard for Dad. And I think he always longed to go back to the days when his little girls were still his little girls. I’m not saying we weren’t able to enjoy a good relationship with him once we got through those awkward teenage years. But I think he was always a bit disappointed we grew up. And I think that colored the relationships we had with him as adults.

Living in the past, whether real or imagined, is an act of futility. Life will never be the same as it was when we were kids. We can’t go back. Time marches on. And if I am honest, my past has been fun and blessed and amazing; but it has also been painful and lonely and hard. Would I really want to relive all of it?

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“The good old days are are often a combination of a bad memory and a good imagination.” (With The Word, Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; page 298)

Yep. That pretty much describes it, doesn’t it? But Wiresbe also said something that hit me this morning on page 297 of With The Word:

“The past must be more than a memory; it must be a ministry.”

I am thankful for the gift of memory, even though not all my memories make me happy. So, what am I doing with that gift of memory? Am I sitting on it in the privacy of my own home, wishing, longing, regretting, or obsessing? Or am I using my past experiences to help someone today, January 11, 2020? Am I remembering my blessings so to encourage others, my mistakes to challenge or to warn someone who needs a reality check?

The past is the past, there is no going back. But our past can also be a tool to be used on behalf of others, for their sakes and God’s glory. Let’s remember the good old, bad old days, and allow it to minister to someone who needs our wisdom and experience to help them along the way.

Deuteronomy 16-17; Bread of Affliction

Moses, in 16:3, called unleavened bread, “the bread of affliction.” Remember, the Jews were to eat only unleavened bread during Passover. The bread was to remind them about their ancestors’ time of slavery in Egypt, and how God told them to flee Egypt in haste.

As a non-Jew, I don’t think I’ve given enough attention to that symbolism as it applies to my own life in 2017. I don’t know about you, but there are just some things I’d rather forget. So why were the Jews commanded to remember the darkest time in their history, the days of affliction and slavery? And is this suggesting I remember my own darkest days, the days I was a slave to sin?

I think there are two reasons why this is exactly the case:

1.  If we don’t remember our mistakes, we take the risk of repeating them. “History repeats itself” is sadly true way too often.

2.  Remembering my past sins helps me to recognize what a great salvation is mine through the blood of Jesus, and how far I’ve come with Him since I asked Him to forgive me.

But didn’t Paul say, “Forgetting what lies behind…”? So which is it? Are we to remember the past or forget it?

Yes.

There is a difference between remembering the past, and living there. As awful as the things I did in my past, I don’t want to just forget them and pretend they never happened. I don’t want to ever do those things again. But I don’t want to continue to beat myself up for things God’s forgiven me for, either. That’s why Paul said he lets the past live in the past, but then he presses on toward the goal of knowing Jesus today.

I want my relationship with my Savior to be a realistic one. That’s why I have those memories of past sins, to recognize how much it cost Him to pay for each and every one. I want to live my life out of gratitude for so great a salvation. And I want to remember what being separated from Him because of my sin felt like, so I never go back to those dark days.

The Old Testament Jews were told to leave Egypt quickly, and completely. They weren’t told to go back, or even to revisit their place of captivity. But they were also told never to forget what it was like to live back there.

I am reminded Jesus called Himself, the Bread of Life. No longer the bread of affliction. He is the life-giver, the sin-forgiverer, the One who redeems by past and makes something beautiful out of my ugliness.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me today what it was like to live in “Egypt.” A slave to sin, with no hope. A woman condemned to life and eternity without You. And thank You for being the Bread of Life, who has forgiven me for every sin that I’ve committed, who sees me as Your child, Your friend. I am in awe. I am humbled. And I am grateful for what Jesus did for even me, as He hung on that cross. May I never forget what it cost Him, may I never forget where I’ve been, and may I never go back there. I give you my past, and press on toward the future with You, my Savior and my Lord.