Thursday, December 6, 2007

Without nostalgia

We were younger, then. More innocent, some would say - but that is nonsense, of course: we were more depraved, less regenerate and sanctified. Less knowledgeable, perhaps, less understanding of the depravity of the world. But not less innocent. I am not sure there is such a thing as innocence as we define it. Innocence of knowledge, but not innocence of character of heart.

I've been reminiscing, today, for reasons I can't identify. Remembering things past, friendships gone by, moments that defined me. I have been thinking on all that has changed in the last two years. Two years ago I was nearing the end of my freshman year of college. I hardly recognize myself. I was barely forming some of the friendships that have since been most meaningful to me; I could not see the painful year that lay ahead, nor the depression that would take me for a time, nor the purging of my soul that God would bring, nor the agony of friendships lost. I was, in many ways, still a boy, though so sure of my own maturity.

I've matured enough since then to see how much maturing remains ahead of me, how far I have to go in a quest to become an authentic representation of God's design for manhood.

I've lost friendships I held very dear. I've gained some of them back. Others remain gone, and probably will stay thus for a considerable time. New friendships have been made. Others have deepened. Others have simply faded with the slow steady passage of time, like the washing of the cliffs by a salty sea.

As I have waxed meditative and contemplative on my past today, I have noted with interest that I have in no way simultaneously waxed nostalgic. Looking back, there is little or nothing of that time that would draw me back to it. Though I wish some of the friendships I had then remained as strong today as they then were, I do not and would not wish away the experiences that have led us where we are. God's sovereign hand has been at work in our lives, and He does know best. That I can not see the ultimate fruit of His design in no way diminishes its excellence and grand supremacy. (Perhaps, to the contrary. But that is another post entirely.)

I was on my old floor tonight. It was a strange experience, not in being on my side of it, but in being on the side so many of the young women I've been friends with lived on - opened up after renovations again. It was almost eerie, walking again down the halls we had spent so much time together in, but with none of them there; every face a different one. And it was a trifle sad, for most of us have drifted apart, gone our separate ways, shall I borrow another tired metaphor to describe the changes wrought in friendship by the passing of time?

Yet, as I noted, I have no sense of nostalgia. I do not like the boy I was, and I do not envy those times, "simpler" though they seem in some ways. Even those things which in some ways seem "better" I know are truly not. Easier, yes; more straightforward, yes; more glorifying to God - no! I do not wish to go back. I look behind only to see how far Christ has brought me, how great His redeeming work in my life, how marvelous all He has accomplished is. This day is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Look back. Dare to see how far the Holy Spirit's work has penetrated your life. Be encouraged by all He has done, convicted by all that you have allowed to creep back into your life by laziness and negligence. But do not dwell in the past. Allow it to inform you, and above all to point you back to the supremacy of Christ who is our King, and to demonstrate the His all-sufficiency. But dwell today, where He has put you, with hope in all He will do in the day ahead of you. Let your mind think on Him and His attributes - whatsoever things are true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, lovely, excellent, worthy of praise - not on a rose-tinted picture of the past. Do not dare to trade, even mentally, the place that He has brought you to for one that He ahs rescued you from.

That you might know Him and the excellencies of His glory more,
- Chris


  1. I see my past in the same light ... very well written.


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