(Post by: Madie Hobbs)
The past is an interesting thing, isn’t it?
It is a stained-glass window of divine, confusing paradoxes. It is a constant cycle of destruction. It is a constant cycle of redemption. It is a story of falling. It is a story of rising. It is terrifying. It is soothing.
But most importantly, it is to be remembered.
I am someone who has lived her life constantly inclined toward the past. Someone who has fallen in love with nostalgia, reflection, and contemplation. I do not merely refer to my past, though. Certainly, my past can invoke certain feelings, bring back certain sensations of excitement or wonder. But I have also reveled in the pasts of others. In the pasts of historical figures. The conjured pasts of my favorite fictional characters. The fantastical pasts of places which have never existed, except in my imagination.
Something I have been most disappointed to see in the present, is how often the people of today neglect these pasts, both true and fictional. This puts the future in a rather precarious position, if you ask me.
You see, all throughout history, the only thing which has never changed, and can never truly be changed, is the past. It has been a beacon of constancy for the people of the centuries to view with both hope and trepidation.
Now, I am afraid, the people of this age wish to ignore this beacon to make their lives more convenient. They neglect the ever-present danger of leaving the songs, stories, and poems of the past behind us.
Stories of the past have been a vital part of cultivating a meaningful present, and they are capable of guiding us through the trials which come with every age. They teach us lessons we shouldn’t learn to live without and show us truths which remain eternally no matter what shifting sands we find ourselves navigating. Both stories of hope and of tragedy can guide us on our way and illuminate paths of wisdom we have too long been disregarding.
J. R. R. Tolkien was a master storyteller who often brought the pasts of his make-believe worlds into their modern days. In The Hobbit, when Gandalf wishes to persuade Bilbo to go on a messy, unexpected adventure to slay a dragon, he reminds the skeptical owner of Bag End what his ancestors once did. He tells him a great tale of a risk one of his long-gone family members took to defeat a goblin king and reminds him most importantly of the victory that person won. As the story of The Hobbit continues, the dwarves Bilbo reluctantly calls his companions continually refer to their past to store up their courage for retaking the Lonely Mountain, their long-lost home.
In the Lord of the Rings, Aragorn tells the four cold, weary, and downcast hobbits he is leading through a dense wilderness a tale of a fair elf who lived long ago. He warns them that the tale is sad but believes, and guesses correctly, it will uplift their hearts.
May we not also forget that divine question uttered by Sam-Wise Gamgee in a most perilous time: Do you remember the old stories, Mr. Frodo?
Each of these instances, and there are many more I could go on about, display the Divinity of the past even though it may be sad, or may be a tale of hardship. They display the workings of a Higher Power in the affairs of men.
I fail to understand why we wish to neglect the past so vehemently, even as Christians, when the chosen people of God have constructed a culture built on their past. The culture Jesus was born into was one with high standards for parents to pass down the stories of God’s faithfulness and for children to remember them. It was a culture continually celebrating their past through festivals, services, and sacraments, and one which always turned to the past to prepare for the future.
Indeed, Jesus Himself was a fulfilment of all past hopes for humanity and came to heal our present so we did not have to continue leaving a fractured past. While being tempted in the wilderness He reminded the devil of the past the Lord so meticulously designed. The past where the Holy Spirit radically impacted the lives of men.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
I wonder, how will we recognize the steadfast love, the mercies, and the faithfulness of the Lord if we do not look to the past and examine the ways in which He has made these things evident? How will we become people God will work mightily through if we do not look to the past and study the characters, the statures the saints before us possessed?
Our God is a God who desires a close relationship with His creation. How will we ever achieve that relationship if we do not choose to spend time studying the past of our Creator?
Life is about learning, and how can we learn better than through looking to the past to see the divinity of our Savior at work through the ages?
He is there, in the great stories, the old songs, and the desperate poetry, if only we look for Him.
SO, WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= In what ways can you look for Christ in the things you read, watch, and listen to?
= Do you believe remembering the past is an important aspect of recounting the Lord’s faithfulness and love?
= What are you going to do differently?
Great article and reflections Madie!
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And as time passes and more memories are made, more history is being created and experiences lived, we must learn. Learning never stops nor does it grow old with us. Thank you Madie!
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