"We give thanks to you, O God,
we give thanks, for your Name is near;
men tell of your wonderful deeds." Psalm 75:1 (NIV)
Hey girlfriends--have you ever gone through a season or years (like I have) in which you wished things were the way they used to be? This could be as trivial as wishing your favorite restaurant or mall still existed or as major as wishing you were married to someone other than your spouse.
Our minds have this incredible ability to block out anything unpleasant and retain a distorted picture of what we want to remember. I have just recently read through Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament and Solomon has this to say about the matter:
"Do not say, Why were the old days better than these? For it is not wise (or because of wisdom) that you ask this." Ecclesiastes 7:10 (Amplified Bible)
How much of our time is spent wishing things were the way they used to be? How much time do we spend lamenting our long past childhoods, our youthful faces, and the days before any major responsibilities? I can easily forget that during those longed-for days of childhood, I spent many of those years wishing I was the adult I am today. I forget the horrors of adolescent insecurity when I didn't know from day to day who I was. And I can too quickly block out the feeling of anxiety and uselessness I felt during those years of college when I didn't know what I was going to do when I grew up. Really, honestly, would I ever want to go back to the person that I was then? No way!
But perhaps the most dangerous thing about living in the past is that we cannot then be fully alive in our present. There was a man in Scripture who dared to ask God what His name was. He wasn't the first man to ask God that question, but Moses was the first man to whom God gave this answer:
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"
God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "
God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Exodus 3:13-15 (NIV)
Girlfriends, He is the I AM God, not the I WAS God. He is as capable of working in our present as He has been in the past. We run from the present and its troubles when we fail to remember that this is His name throughout all generations. The God that assured Moses and the Israelites that He was I AM in their difficulties is the same God who assures us of His same, unchanging power today.
There is nothing wrong with remembering wonderful times that God has allowed us to have in our memory banks. But we cross a line when we dare to think that the reason why they were so good was that God was more powerful then than He is in our current situation. Instead, we must train ourselves to hold those memories with the fondness that they deserve and nothing more. How do we measure if we are doing that? By examining whether our affection for the past is allowing to live fully in our present. And always, always, we must praise our I AM for showing Himself as mighty as He ever has in the past.
We live with hope! Our best days are not over--they are ahead of us. We are to wait expectantly, knowing that we are safe in the keeping of our great Shepherd who knows exactly what He is doing. So, next time we are tempted to dissolve into a pity party over God saying no and not changing our present situation, let's praise Him that I AM is His name--the name by which He is to be exalted over generation to generation--including our own.
Jesus, Your Name is near! It is as present in my trouble as it was in the joys of my past. The best way for me to know that is by telling my foolish heart of what You have done before. Your faithfulness will never end. Help me live fully in today, knowing that You are going to show up in it if I look for You.