Friday, August 19, 2016

Is the past a drag? .......... Parables 473

June 20, 1995

We decided to go after our excited daughter’s phone call. “The dishes are just like Grandma’s and they have toys just like we had when we were kids . . . “

It was the biggest garage sale anyone could imagine. Stuff people usually buy and sell from tables set in driveways filled all three pavilions at Northlands Agricom. Some of it was for sale. Much of it was on display. No matter what side of the table they were on, everyone seemed to enjoy the “1995 Antique & Collectibles Show.”

Memories and old things are held together with string, yarn and wallpaper paste. Unfortunately, after twenty-seven moves, either across town or across the country, we have tossed out many objects that might evoke the good old days. That I regret. Memories are important. Good ones bring warm emotions and draw us closer to each other. Even the painful are revived, either for their good learning experiences or for their funny side.

The Bible make a great deal of remembering, both for present need and future choices. God says, “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past . . . “ and “Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles and the judgments He pronounced.”

During Israel’s history, God did wonderful things that stirred faith and hope with their memory. He also gave commands to learn and obey. Without some reminders, even these who directly received them were apt to forget what He said, just like we do.

For that reason, God said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.’”

Throughout history, believers have used objects like these tassels and blue cords to remind them of their spiritual history. The Orthodox Church had their icons. The western church had paintings, carvings and statues. Crosses endure as another familiar reminder of the sacrifice of Christ and the love of God.

Personally, I often put a note on the edge of my computer screen to remind me of God’s goodness or His commands, especially those I have trouble recalling. Sometimes I print Scripture verses on cards and put them above my sink or in other frequented places.

Some people go overboard and live in the past as a way to avoid the challenges and pain of the nasty here and now. Instead of occasionally reminiscing for enjoyment or instruction, they painfully dwell on their past mistakes. Others live in the “good old days” as if nothing worthwhile happens now. Both extremes wrongly use memories.

The Apostle Paul had a word for Christians who struggle with their past: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and 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.”

Paul made mistakes, learned from them, then moved on. He had successes, praised God for them, then moved on, always toward his goal. The past was fine, for a season, like an afternoon of antiques and collectibles, but I’m with Paul — the past was fine, and so were its treasures, but I would rather be moving in traffic with the little I need, than spending time, money and energy at a garage sale collecting things that will only hinder me.

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