IS IT EVER OKAY TO LIVE IN THE PAST?

4 Reasons Why My Answer Is “Yes!”

“Living in the past” isn’t  normally  associated with spiritual vitality. But there’s one sense in which repeated excursions into our past is integral to a more robust walk with Christ.  Digest these reasons for looking over your shoulder, for recalling specific incidences in your personal spiritual pilgrimage.

1.    Recalling the Lord’s past deeds boosts the faith needed to face current trials or stressors.

     I may not know why I’m smack-dab in the middle of a frustrating circumstance, or why  God remains silent in response to repeated prayers.  But when I’m questioning God about the present, it helps to recall past trials that forced me to lean on Him, which served as a catalyst for growth.  Or I remember a prayer He ultimately answered, and realize the formative benefits of waiting on Him back then.

     In Psalm 13, David starts with a lament over God’s apparent forgetfulness.  “How long…?” was his refrain in the first two verses. But here’s how the Psalm ends: “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness…I’ll sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (vs. 3-4).  His situation hadn’t changed, but his faith got a boost by remembering how God had dealt with him in the past.

2.     Remembering the Lord’s past faithfulness prevents moral erosion and a drift away from our faith.

     There’s a clear-cut association between the Israelites’ pattern of disobedience and their forgetfulness concerning their spiritual history as a people. Psalm 106 highlights their rebellion, then asserts, “Our fathers…did not remember Your abundant kindnesses” (vs. 7), and ”They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt…and awesome things by the Red Sea” (vs. 21-22).

     Recalling how He has demonstrated love and provision for us keeps our hearts warm toward Him.

3.     Memories of God’s past deeds give parents “faith stories” to share with their children.

     A number of Old Testament texts admonish parents not only to communicate God’s truth to their kids, but stories of His faithfulness as well—even events that preceded their birth.  Psalm 78 says to “tell the generation to come…His wondrous works that He has done” (vs.4).  Verbal communication of God’s past deeds is a theme that stitches together the verses in Psalm 145.  According to verse 4, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

     Do your kids or grandkids know how God intervened in your personal or family life before they were born?  Do you keep telling the stories of answered prayer  or provision they’ve experienced?

4.     Use memories of God’s past blessings to frame a meaningful time of family or small group worship.

Use a laptop to show a video of a soloist or congregation singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”  Listen carefully to the lyrics.  Explain this biblical principle: The faith needed to face current trials or stressors is rooted in our past.  When we look back at our pilgrimage with Christ, we can identify answers to prayer, ways He has sustained us through affliction, and other types of provision for our needs.  Cultivating these memories boosts faith even when the current situation is confusing or painful.

Next, give family or group members an opportunity to share a concrete way God has demonstrated His faithfulness to them or to their family.  Celebrate together His interventions.  Then offer prayers of praise for His past deeds.

What is your favorite memory of the Lord’s past faithfulness?  With whom can you share it today?