“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:6-13
A little while ago Shirley and I found and old box of pictures. It was almost like we had found a hidden treasure. We spent over an hour going through these pictures and remembering all the events and times they brought to mind. Like: Shirley and I standing in the snow a week before I made the trip to Paris Island for Marine boot camp. Our wedding pictures and remembering the rush of that weekend and how the Captain told me “If the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife they would have issued you one.” He didn’t want to let me come home and get married. Many pictures of our son, Stephen, in many different stages of his life. How proud we were and are of this young man. The houses we have lived in and the churches we have served… wow, what a life we have lived… and how we have been blessed to serve God through the church. And finally, we noticed the pictures which chronicled our increasing age – and how life was morphing our looks. I think that was when our journey through the pictures ended. I could go on, of course, as we did that morning, wading into all of those times and places until we were chest deep—heart deep—in nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a very natural and powerful emotion, particularly for those of us who are older. But nostalgia has its dangers. If it gives us renewed appreciation for the ways God has blessed us in the past, then it can be a wonderful occasion for thanksgiving. But nostalgia also can make us idealize the past and in ways that make the present pale by comparison. So nostalgia can rob the present of delight and the future of hope.
As Christians we draw on the past in a myriad ways, of course, but our faith is always forward leaning. We are assured that the good old days, no matter how good, are nothing compared to what God has in store for us. Paul quotes Isaiah to remind the Corinthians, but perhaps also to remind himself: “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” So the advice for all of us is to look back, yes, and be thankful. But lean forward to all that God has in store for us.
Dear God of yesterday, today and tomorrow, help us to look back in ways that keep us thankful, but leaning forward enough to keep us alive and real in the faith of Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace