Ever since our days at L’Abri when I heard Edith Schaeffer talk about the importance of “creating memories,” I’ve been on it. I think I have some kind of sentimentality gene in my DNA because of my penchant for wanting to make every occasion memorable. “But Mom, it’s cold and rainy.” “Yes, but think of the great memory we’re building!”
Memories are purposed to foster security and stimulate faithfulness. They help us through tough times as we recall God’s goodness in the past. Yet as much as I relish the sweetness memories bring, they also come with a caution: be careful not to pine for the past as a means of avoiding the present. We can long so much for what was that we miss the opportunity for what is and certainly for what will come. We don’t want to be like the person who puts his hand to the plow and looks back.
I wonder if Jesus’ disciples struggled with this. Did they long for the “glory days” when all the crowds were following Jesus, attending to every word, every miracle? Did they wrestle with wanting to go back and relive what must have been extraordinary times of intimacy around evening campfires as they traveled with him throughout Galilee? We know they were filled with grief when he told them he was leaving. Yet he assured them their grief would turn to joy and they would eventually understand his going was for their good. We don’t know how long they may have lingered in the past, but thankfully for us, they took the torch and carried it forward. Had they refused, the world would be a much different place.
No matter how rich the past, it can never be relived. Loved ones pass away. Children leave home. Once tightly-knit relationships fray. As painful as change can be, God enables us to go forward by promising something new. It remains for us to take our torch and carry it to a different time, a different place.
So the next time those “misty water-colored memories” come to mind, let them put a smile on your face. Enjoy them. Be thankful for the blessing of the good ones and redemption of the bad ones. Just don’t let them become a shrine that keeps you from the new adventures that lie ahead.