Before we get started, I want to thank everyone who downloaded my new e-book: Twenty Ways to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life. The response was phenomenal, and our community quadrupled in number!
So, welcome to all newcomers to WSC. I have to admit I am a little curious about what you think about the book and how you are using this resource. Please share your thoughts in the comment section at the end of this post. It might help other readers enhance their prayer lives.
Oh, and if you are one of the few that didn’t download the e-book, it’s not too late. Click here for your copy of Twenty Ways to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life. It’s free!
One last housekeeping note: a reminder to our veteran WSC subscribers and explanation to the newcomers, the post at the end of each month is called our Christian workout. If you want to find out why we call these posts workouts or to check out past posts, click here.
Okay, let’s get down to what the Bible says about nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a yearning for or a return to times in the past. Usually, an unrealistic view of times gone by.
Seems harmless enough, this thing we call nostalgia. We look back at better times, remember the “good old days.”
Of course, we all think about our loved ones who passed and remembered lives shared.; however, that is different from nostalgia. Whenever we reminisce, it is longing for a simpler time, or to have more years with a loved one. In other words, nostalgia is longing for the past; reminiscing is recalling the past, perhaps fondly.
Therefore, looking back, even longing for past times is comforting – even healthy; however, I was surprised to learn how much the Bible talks about nostalgia – even more surprised at how it can take us down the wrong path!
So let’s take a look at nostalgia through the eyes of some biblical characters, who found themselves sinning due to their longing for better times of the past.
NOSTALGIA AND LOT’S WIFE
Genesis 19: 1-26 tells the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God destroyed these cities due to the decadence and pervasive evil within their city walls.
Abram’s (Abraham) nephew, Lot, lived in Sodom. How did he come to be a resident of this wicked place? God blessed Abram with wealth; eventually, the two men parted ways because their flocks were too large for their shared land.
Abram offers Lot his choice of land, and the younger man chooses the area toward the east because it “looked like the garden of the Lord and the land of Egypt.” In other words, it was beautiful with plenty of water; however, let’s face reality, Eden is where the fall occurred, and Egypt was a pagan country.
Well, when God ordered the destruction of the cities, He saved Lot once again from his poor choices. Angels warn him and help his family to leave the town. The family was told not to look back!
Despite the direct order, Lot’s wife looks back, and God turns her into a pillar of salt.
Are we different from Lot’s wife?
It is easy to condemn Lot’s wife. However, are we so different?
Keep in mind, her friends were dying, and the Bible isn’t clear if all their children were with them. The angels told Lot to “take the daughters who are here.” Perhaps she left some family behind – even grandchildren. We don’t know.
However, I do know I’m not so different from Lot’s wife. When I went through my divorce, I often cried to God, ‘give me my life back.’
Even now, I look wistfully at being a young mom or wish the grandchildren stayed younger longer. I also long to be thin, energetic, and free from diabetes.
However, like Lot’s wife, nostalgia clouds our memories. Inevitably, there were hard times in Sodom. Heck, her daughters were almost raped by a gang of thugs the night before this escape! Thus, nostalgia causes us to forget difficult times in the past.
Solomon, with all his wisdom, warns us in Ecclesiastes about longing for former lives.
Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
This folly of nostalgia brings discontentment; additionally, it keeps us from living abundant lives presently and into the future.
NOSTALGIA AND THE ISRAELITES
“It is better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:12b)!
Yes, that is what the Israelites said to Moses after witnessing the miracles of the plagues and the Pharaoh’s defeat. However, God saves them from the approaching army by parting the Red Sea. Perhaps the most marvelous miracle they’ve seen thus far!
Okay, surely now they look forward to the future. Ah, not so much.
“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned, “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death” (Exodus 16:3).
Despite the assurance of the Promised Land and the freedom to raise their children in the knowledge of God, the Israelites were stunningly ungrateful.
Of course, we are nothing like the Israelites.
Ahem, maybe not you, but I am way too much like this group of rebels. I spend considerable time looking backward and not appreciating the blessings God bestows on me daily, even hourly. Okay, maybe every minute.
Too close to appreciate all the marvelous things in our current situation; it’s is easy to look at blessings in the past and wonder why it can’t be like that again?
Years later, when the Israelites are oppressed again, this time by the Babylonians; God tells Isaiah to forget the past and await a bright future with miracles the likes not seen before.
Isaiah writes God’s message: “But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do” (Isaiah 43:18).
It’s a message we need to heed today. While everything is not resolved or answered in this life we must trust God that our future is bright. After all, heaven is coming and won’t it be grand.
Ludicrous was Jonah’s thought when God told him to go warn the people of Nineveh to repent, and consequently, avoid God’s wrath.
“No way, God, I’m not warning those people.” Jonah remembered the “good old days” when he took satisfaction in knowing his enemy’s destruction was coming.
Nostalgia brought Jonah a whole lot of trouble.
Three days in a whale’s stomach provided time to think about the future.
We would never disobey a direct command from God!
Really? It’s easy to cling to the past and hold that grudge. After all, like Jonah, maybe staying angry is satisfying.
Come on, God, forgive those who hurt me? Being angry is too gratifying and more comfortable to boot.
Are you kidding me, visit that person in jail who committed a heinous crime? He deserves to do time, and after all, I’m nothing like him. What can I say? Too awkward God. I’m on my way to Tarshish. And so I don’t run into any whales, I ‘m taking the train.
When was the last time you prayed for an enemy?
Look over the Ten Commandments, are you obeying them?
Yeah, I am more like Jonah than I want to admit. How about you? We need to heed John 13: 7:
“You don’t understand what I am doing, but someday you will.”
If God wants us to move on from our past, let go of a grudge, help someone we don’t like, we must do it.
Why is trusting God so difficult? He is faithful and keeps all promises. Know that someday all will be clear, but today, we need to obey.
It’s natural, even healthy, to look back with fondness and shared memories; however, when nostalgia looks at the past unrealistically, it takes us in the wrong direction. After all, when we look back, we can walk right into a wall or fall off a cliff.
Ultimately, looking back at happy memories, and remembering “the good old days,” is natural. Amazingly, the OT people were doing it; that’s how universal nostalgia is to human nature.
However, remember, each day is a gift and an opportunity to serve God. Don’t allow living in the past to deter us from appreciating today and anticipating the future.
To read more about nostalgia, check out this article, but remember it is important to:
Follow God yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
JULY’S WORKOUT SERVICE PROJECT
This post is July’s Christian Workout. For new readers, we always have a service project suggestion with our workout post. To learn more about these workouts, click here.
This month visit with a relative and reminisce over pictures or ask them about their childhood and teen years. Take notes you will be glad you have this information later in life. You can also make a visit to a nursing home or assisted living facility and spend time with a resident. Let them walk down memory lane.
As always, I welcome your comments about this post, and as mentioned at the beginning of the article, share your thoughts on the e-book: Twenty Ways to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life. You never know when your insights will help others during a difficult time or just enhance their prayer life.
Additionally, WSC encourages comments on last month’s workout: Gardens: It’s that time of Year. Am I the only one who didn’t know that gardens and the redemption story are connected? I thought it was fascinating.
Did anyone do last month’s service project and plant an indoor garden for a person in need? If you did, tell us about in comments.
Once again, welcome to all our newcomers, and blessings until next time.