“The Lord says, ‘Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago’”.
Isa 43:18 GNB
One of our perpetual problems is knowing what parts of the past to leave behind and which to take with us. One of our most fruitful sources of learning in order to shape the future is the mistakes of the past. In our faith, memory is vital in working out who we are and where we are going. Faith is based on remembering the things God has done, both before us and with us.
Probably some of the Israelites had developed quite a good life for themselves whilst in captivity in Babylon. Challenging them to be ready to return to Israel, the prophet Isaiah knew that the road there was going to be hard and long. And what they were going to find when they got to Jerusalem was not going to be a bed of roses. It was going to need courage and vision to go back. So Isaiah spoke God’s word to them, preparing them to look to the future and not to cling to the past.
It is all too easy to live in the past, even for Christians. We can long for “the good old days” when life was slower, simpler, and (as we look back) more glamorous than the present. We can think of when churches were fuller, when the hymns being sung were just “the good old favourites”, and when “the place was full of the youth”. Tempting as it is (especially for older people) to indulge in nostalgia, time moves on and we have to move on with it – in our faith as much as in any other aspect of life. The future belongs to Christ.
Lord, help me to leave the past behind.