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Was it Really Better Back Then?
- August 24, 2017
- Lori Travers
Maybe the 20/20 hindsight cliché is a myth. Our memories can deceive us. There are days I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast, let alone what all my former memories consisted of. Was it really as good as I thought it was as I compare events in our current set of historical circumstances? Or was it worse? Can I confidently rely upon my limited memory bank to accurately recall past events? Or worse, can I rely upon the inconsistencies of those writing newspaper articles, hosting talk shows, or rewriting our history books?
I was raised in a culture of exploration and a good amount of isolation. We played outside without the watchful eye of parents observing our every action! We explored our world, interacted with a variety of backgrounds and cultures, fought our battles and settled our arguments. By the end of the day, we were physically exhausted and trusted the meal and warm bath would do us in until we repeated the process the next day.
Some historical events that took place during that period of time included The Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the introduction of the Beatles and color TV, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, Charles Manson’s heinous murders, and the Apple I computer launch, selling for $666.66 (hmm…). I DO remember these events. But I DON’T recall them with perfect accuracy. I rely upon the historians and investigative reporters to relay accurate information. But they are human and they have bents and biases, like we all do.
So, what’s my point in all of the above? Simply to say that history is neither all good nor all bad. And so will our future be on this side of heaven. There is no utopia promised in this tangible universe. And if you are sorely disappointed by that last sentence, you are setting yourself up for a life of continual disillusionment. Which, of course, leads to anger…which in turn can lead to rifts between those who don’t necessarily view life through your same lenses. Which can lead to grumbling, complaining, entitlement mentality, and last, but not least, saying and acting out in plain stupid ways (did I just say “stupid”?! Yes, I did).
Let’s look back on some Jewish history and see if we can learn by it. After living in brick-making slavery, cruelly inspected by the Egyptian governing body, God raises up a remarkable leader to rescue His people and lead them out of Egypt. As they settle in to desert life, God miraculously sends them “manna from heaven”. A quite versatile commodity, this manna had a coriander appearance and tasted like something made with olive oil (and who doesn’t like olive oil?!). But it wasn’t enough. The people wanted MEAT and they weren’t shy in demanding it! They “remembered” the glory days of good ‘ole Egypt…the melons, cukes, leeks, garlic (well, garlic does go nicely with olive oil…). Deceived by a brick-making amnesia, they craved only what their warped memories desired (and their stinking flesh). How in the world did they forget the BRICKS…the bondage…the suffering…the cruelty?!
Precious fellow sojourners, our God is calling us FORWARD. Hear me out…I am all about getting healed from our past traumas and pain. Receiving help and healing for family of origin issues is vital to our emotional, spiritual, and (I strongly believe) physical health and well-being. But on the grander scale of social justice and historical change, remember that not everything we read, hear, see, and remember is perfectly accurate. The call by God to “forget” is a call to be present in the present, with a continued awareness of His Presence. He tells His people through the prophet Isaiah,
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isa. 43:18-21)
Beloved, let’s move forward with the assurance that GOD will bring to your mind what HE wants you to remember and only if it’s necessary for healing and bringing glory to Him.
Currently our ailing country needs neither focus on how good it was, nor on how bad it was. Currently is just is. But make no mistake…focusing on the past will prove to be a hindrance to unity, forgiveness, and focus. Even worse…our grumbling may result in abnormal amounts of quail to satisfy an appetite that is merely an illusion.