Nostalgia is a gift from God because it takes us to a place where we remember the love and grace of God in the past. I love to visit old general stores, because the things they offer and the smell of the candy take me back to wonderful memories of trips with my grandparents. This aspect of memory is a gift and it is okay for us to delight in those memories as long as they do not distract us from what God desires us to do now.
Memory of salvation history was important to the Israelites. In fact, they were told to continually teach the mighty works of God to their children and descendants. There were times when they failed to do this, but in the days of Jesus, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes knew the accounts of Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and Elijah. They knew to be looking for a Messiah and that God was going to bring salvation to his people. We see this in the salvation history of Israel that Stephen shared in Acts 7.
In this passage, Stephen recounted the ways God worked through his people in the Old Testament by reminding them of the great works of God to the Jewish leaders. This group was so focused on how God worked in the past that they could not see God’s hand in the present. In Acts 7, those listening to the message of Stephen rejected the present gift of God and killed Stephen.
Nostalgia and memory are gifts from God, but just like every good gift, Satan can distort and use it to keep us from experiencing God’s desire in the present and hope for the future. We are told in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This verse specifically speaks of the day Christ will grant salvation through his death, burial, and resurrection. It is important to note that this was the exact event the Jewish leaders were missing because of reveling in the past. They delighted in the past to the point they were blinded in the present.
Today is a gift from God designed for you to know him more intimately, but it can be missed because of two things: focusing on the past, or worrying about the future. Worry is a subject for another time, but know that God has a greater knowledge of himself to reveal to you today. This idea alone makes today better than any other day. Don’t let your focus on the past rob you of seeing God’s gift in the present.
This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas on 8/11/16.