The good old days sometimes become more an obsession than memory. When we find ourselves trying to relive the past instead of embracing the moment we're in, we are limiting what God can do in our lives. When we hear the words, "We've never done it that way before," come from our own mouths we need to step back and look at how the old ways have kept us from moving forward into new territory. This is true in most areas in our lives and especially in the church.
There was a time a child was thrilled to receive a pencil with the words Happy Birthday printed on it during Sunday school. They'd carry it to school with them the next day and everyone would know it was their birthday. They'd use it until it was a nubby lead with not much eraser left. As a child in the 1970's I would have been thrilled with a pencil. But this is not the 1970's anymore and a pencil is not groovy anymore. Neither is that word.
Why is it easier for us to let some things go than others? Slang, for instance. As a teen in the 1980's I was totally into my gnarly big hair. It was like, awesome to the max. Thankfully, my vocabulary matured as I did. If I were to talk like that now I'd get some bizarre reactions. Probably the same type of reaction I'd get if I were to perm, tease, and Aqua Net my hair to the unimaginable heights fashionable thirty years ago.
We need to learn to keep our yearnings for the past in check. We can learn from the past but need to move forward and take new chances. What worked once may not work now. The new thing we try may not work now, but we can't stay where we are. My husband and I once pastored a church that was on a very busy road. I had the idea to get up early and make coffee to serve to the people driving by. We had cups printed with the church name on them and had signs made. We stood in the parking lot week after week offering free coffee to the passersby. I remember the day we finally had one person stop. We were elated, but after several more weeks of dumping the unused coffee down the drain we decided this plan wasn't working. Does an idea that doesn't work keep us from moving forward and trying new things? It shouldn't. Nor should it push us back into our area of comfort where we keep the same old things going because they always worked before.
I've giggled a time or two over pictures posted online. Original family photos of children side by side with the re-enacted version twenty or thirty years later. Same people, same type of clothing, same setting, but a completely different picture. We can try to mimic the past but something will always be not quite the way it was. But this is how it is supposed to be. We are supposed to move forward and grow up. Life without change is boring.
Instead of chasing the past, including its experiences and the way it made us feel, we should be chasing today. Today is what is in our hand, it is all we have. This moment. We can make it something extraordinary or we can let it pass as we wish for the way it once was. Embrace each moment while we have it. Time passes faster with each sunset and soon we too will be a memory. Chase today while you have it.
Suzanne Schaffer has been in full-time ministry with her husband Wayne since 1992, pastoring in Pennsylvania and Illinois. She has two grown children and spends most of her days either writing or reading with a cup of tea close by. She enjoys attending auctions and sometimes brings home more stuff than she knows what to do with. She believes life is too short for mediocre food and insists on having good chocolate in the house at all times. You can connect with Suzanne at her blog, www.notenoughchocolate.blogspot.com