“I just want the same day.”
That’s what my son has been saying to me recently. He’s struggling with the whole ‘being the baby of the family” thing.
There are perks, of course, like lots of attention and helpers and getting to do fun activities younger than everyone else did.
But the trade-off is hard. He’s always the one being dragged along to fun for the big sisters that he can’t participate in and he’s the one patiently watching concerts, award ceremonies, and competitions that aren’t for him either.
And many times he gets left home with mom or dad while the older kids head out the door. Even if they aren’t going anywhere fun or wonderful, they are going and he’s not and there’s sorrow over missing out.
So, he’s been telling me how he just wants “the same day,” the day when he got to come wherever we were going and he got to play with some friends while we rehearsed for a play.
Nevermind that we’re not always going to rehearsal. Or maybe we are, but there won’t be any one for him to play with that night.
He doesn’t understand that you can’t just replicate good days from the past. They happen and you enjoy them and then you move on maybe to other good days, different good days.
One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes is:
‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’
There’s something joy-filling about celebrating that good day that you loved so much and remembering all that goodness, but not mourning the loss of it.
And that’s the choice for us.
How can we engage today? Right now, in this place where God has brought us, how can we celebrate and rejoice and worship? How can enjoy this moment and let God be at work in us here?
Good or bad, the past sure can ensnare us. Maybe pain and hurt hold us hostage. Or perhaps memories trip us up and those “good old days” we long for stir up discontentment with NOW because yesterday still holds our hearts hostage.
That’s where the nation of Israel was as they lingered outside the Promised Land, hoping their journey would finally be over. They wailed:
“If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6 NIV).
Fish and a salad. They were willing to forego the Promised Land for the sake of fish and a salad bar they had in Egypt. They even forgot that the Egyptian food wasn’t free; it came at the high price of slavery.
Let’s not fall into this same backwards trap.
Instead, we look forward. We look forward to all that God has in store for us. We look forward to all His plans for our future. We look forward to heaven with Jesus and eternity in His presence.
Maybe it’s not “the same day” we had before, but it’s a new day with Him. Maybe it’s not salmon and cucumbers, but God gives miraculous manna.
New can be frightening sometimes. It can be uncertain. But as long as God leads us forward, we need not fear.
We learn from David, who used the past to propel him to courage, not mire him in discontentment or complacency.
David knew why he could face down a giant with confidence and not fear. He told Saul:
“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God (1 Samuel 17:34-36 NIV).
In his book Glory Days, Max Lucado says:
“Before he fought Goliaht the giant, he remembered how God had helped him kill a lion and a bear…He faced his future by revisiting his past. Face your future by recalling God’s past victories” (Glory Days).
Our past doesn’t have to be a pit and it doesn’t have to be a monument.
Our past is a testimony of how God brought us through and it’s a reminder that He will bring us through again.
He has provided and He will provide.
He has redeemed and He will redeem.
He has directed and He will direct.
He has forgiven and He will forgive.