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An event took place this past month that stirred nostalgia for many people. The big roller skate, used as a sign at the rollercade across the street from our building, was taken down. The rollercade has sat empty for years now, and hasn’t been used for its intended purpose in years. The skate, however, will be restored to once more run at car shows and parades. The parking lot was packed with work vehicles and cars, and many were on hand to see it removed and taken away. The rollercade is currently being remodeled to serve as a warehouse.
It was nostalgic to watch all this, as these things represent an era that has passed, a time in people’s lives that now exists only in their memories, no longer in reality. I’m sure for those people there to witness the event, they remembered seeing that huge skate being driven in parades in times past. They could recall skating in the rollercade, or taking their children/grandchildren there to skate. They might also feel sad over how this change represents changes in general, that the world they were familiar with is no more, and that so much has changed, they feel abandoned in the world where they now live today.
This experience is something common to humanity no matter the time in which one lives. Even the children of Israel, during the time of wilderness wanderings, amazingly longed for the days they spent as slaves in Egypt. “The Israelites cried again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!’” (Numbers 11: 4-6) Reading their complaints you can hear the words, “Oh how we long for the good ol’ days!” Incredible as it seems, they preferred the past, where they served under harsh labor as slaves, to the present filled with the promise they now had. They had allowed their romanticizing the past to keep them from having a blessed present, and a wonderful future in the promised land.
Our past experiences help shape who we are, and can provide a strong foundation for present living. The past, however, is the past, where we can’t go back to live or recreate it today. It is an inappropriate place to spend the present. Paul emphasized the importance of living life where we are now when he wrote, “Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:11-12). He also said, “Working together with Him, we also appeal to you, ‘Don’t receive God’s grace in vain.’ For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:1-2).
Many times the good ol’ days weren’t as good when being lived in than remembering has made them. Even if they were better days, they are gone. We can long for a better future, but that is yet to be. Our living must be in the present. Our value to our family, friends, and others is in how we conduct ourselves today. We are here at this point in time to live for God and know His blessings in doing so. How we spend today can be built upon the past, but will also determine what kind of future we have. Today is important! Are we taking advantage of our opportunities to live for Christ, to serve in His kingdom, and to be an example to others? Today is all we have, and we need to use it wisely, not knowing how many more todays will be available to us. Where do you live? “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:15-17).
Robert Johnson is a minister in Longview, Texas, where he has been a preacher for over 40 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and Biblical Languages, and a Masters is in Liberal Studies from
the University of Oklahoma. He loves sharing the gospel with others and ministering to people’s needs.