A common mantra today says the past is just a dream and the future is only a hope. Therefore live for today, for it’s all we really have. Don’t worry about the future and forget about the past.
The Source of Existence
I’m not so sure I agree with these assumptions. The past is not merely a dream. It is rock-solid real. A dream is something that only existed in our heads. The past, our past, is the source of our existence today. It has made us what we are now. Nor is it correct to say the past is gone or is only a memory. Deeds I’ve done in the past still have their ripple effects today. Work I’ve accomplished in the past still stands today. Don’t tell me the past was just a dream and now it’s gone. If the past is gone, so am I. If the past no longer exists, then neither do we. The past is so real and firm that it can never be erased.
And if anything in this life is ours it is most certainly our past. The past is our possession. It is God’s gift to us. The past is our chiseled-in-stone-story of all God’s acts of faithfulness to us. It is all the many times He’s protected us from danger. Our past is all those wonderful moments with our spouse and our children, all those glorious sunsets, every trip from which we arrived home safely, and every challenge God’s helped us to overcome. The past is our most prized possession. For it will cause our future to look brighter and give us every reason to live. The past is a vast treasure chest of jewels that we should open daily. We should hold its gems in our hands every day and delight in their beauty.
Reminder of Blessings
People say we shouldn’t live in the past, and when it comes to injustices we’ve suffered, I agree. It’s best not to dwell on those painful things—at least until we’ve reconciled ourselves to them and begin to see their value in making us the person God wants us to be. Even Joseph in the Bible learned to say to his brothers who sold him as a slave, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good” (Genesis 50:20).
But when it comes to those blessings in my life, the kindnesses that people have done for me, and the times God’s come through for me—then spend all the time in the past you like. Explore the past. Learn its lessons. Discover those golden moments of God’s love. Live in the past all you like. It will not make you wish to go backwards in life. Instead, it will help you face the future. For the past will prove that God loves you and will never forsake you.
A Love Affair
Sadly, it is our love affair with the future and our focus on what is left undone which has caused us to toss the past behind us as refuse. That is tragic. Our past is like a wise and insightful counselor who can teach us wisdom. Our past is like an archive of love letters from God to remind us that God loves us as we are and will never stop loving us. And our past is the proof that God will take care of our future. Relish the moment and enjoy the present. But the present is always fleeting, so use it to build a beautiful past. The future is always withheld from us. But the glorious past is ours to enjoy.
In the Psalms King David wrote, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits” (Psalm 103:2). I challenge you not to treat the past as a mere “done deal” to be stashed away in “File 13.” Forget none of God’s benefits. The past is full of them and they’ve brought you safely to today.
Dear Father in heaven, I thank You for all your acts of mercy and faithfulness in the past. Lord, even if you never do another good thing for me, Your mercies in the past are mine. And I know in my heart that Your grace which brought me safe thus far will also lead me home. Amen.
In article photo: A Sailor hugs his daughter after the ship returned from deployment, April 11. by Official U.S. Navy Page licensed under BY CC 2.0