Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Good Old Days

I remember the days of old…” (Psalm 143:5).

Years ago I came across a scrap of graffiti scrawled on a college classroom wall: “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be”—a reminder that our memories may be excessively euphoric. Yet, we older folks still allow our minds to run backward through the years and yearn for that better time and place—the “good old days.”

For some, these reveries bring delight and thanksgiving. For others the past evokes only bitter memories. Deep in the night they ponder their own disillusionments, failures and fantasies, and think of the cruel hand that life has dealt them. They brood over what went before and think about “what if,” and “what might have been.”

It’s better to  remember the past, as David did, and contemplate the good that God has done, to “meditate on all (his) works; to muse on the work of (his) hands” (Psalm 143:5). [1]    We should call to mind the loving kindness of the Lord, name his blessings through the years and count them one by one. These are the memories that foster the highest good: They evoke a deep longing for more of God and more of his tender care.[2] They take us out of the past and into that secret place of familiarity and fellowship with our Lord.

I heard a story recently about an elderly woman who would sit in silence for hours in her rocking chair, hands folded in her lap, eyes gazing off into the far distance. One day her daughter asked her “Mother, what do you think about when you sit there so quietly?” “That, my dear,” her mother replied softly, with a twinkle in her eye, “is between Jesus and me.”

Oh, that our memories and meditations would so draw us into his presence!


[1] The basic meaning of this Hebrew verb translated “muse” seems to be “to turn over and over in one’s mind.”
[2] “I stretch out my hands to you; my soul is like parched earth with respect to you.” —Psalm 143:6

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