Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life (Phil 4:4 Passion Translation)
It’s said to be a sign of growing old when you can always see more in the rear-view mirror than through the windscreen. Or when nearly every conversation begins with ‘I remember when …..’ Or when the photograph albums on your shelves take up more room than anything else.
Guilty on all counts! Sometimes it feels like there are just so many memories that there’s no room for anything else in your head. So many people, places and experiences, whether wonderful or perhaps just a bit less than wonderful ….. On the other hand, memories fade, or become deceptive. It can be just a bit deflating when you tell a story from way back (for the umpteenth time), and someone quietly says ‘it wasn’t really quite like that’.
There is a marvellous verse in Ecclesiastes – 7:11 – ‘do not say “why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions’. Wow! What wisdom! What insight! The person who wrote that understood something of the temptations that come with long experience of life. (Roger referred to Ecclesiastes yesterday, too. Check it out some time – it comes right after Proverbs).
One of the things I love about the Apostle Paul is his determination in his latter years to go on looking forward, and looking forward with hope, confidence, joy and even excitement. After all his years of pioneer mission work, wrestling with determined opposition, arguing his case with political and religious opponents, seeing the success of people coming to believe in Jesus and new churches being formed, rejoicing in the transformation of individual lives, sometimes facing angry hordes baying for his blood….. you would think he might have reached a point where he would look for a quiet corner of the empire in which to see out his days in peace, reminisce with his elderly friends over a game of bowls, check out some of the old photos.
Not a bit of it! ‘I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fulness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfil…… I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead’ (Phil 3:12-13 Passion Translation)
Whatever stage of life we may be at, as an individual, as a couple, as a church, let’s ask the Lord for that positive, forward-looking passion modelled by Paul. Don’t settle for bemoaning the loss of the past – God still has great things for us, and we can press on and enter in with great joy.
PS Nothing wrong with a game of bowls, by the way – great way to meet new people….. And they say more and more young people are giving it a go……