Have you ever found that when you ponder the past your thoughts run to “if-only”? Or when you consider the future your imagination tends toward “what-if”? Whereas if-only brings about regret, what-if produces fear. Neither is healthy or productive. Yet remembering is good! The Old Testament is full of remembering. The key is in noticing what God’s children remembered.
In Deuteronomy 32:7a, Moses says to the children of Israel, “Remember the days of old. …” He goes on to enumerate past acts of God’s faithfulness. After Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River he had them set up stones as a monument to help them remember to tell their own children of God’s miraculous rescue. We too need to remember specific acts of God’s faithfulness.
I have found that one of the many blessings in aging is that we have lived long enough to experience God’s faithfulness in numerous situations. We’ve seen His provision in the lives of others. Yet it is so easy to forget, easy to focus on regrets. Recently I have been encouraged to take time to specifically list ways that I have experienced God’s faithfulness throughout my life. Sometimes when we look back we see his protection, his gentle closing of a door, his opening of a different path, his leading of a child we thought was lost. Often we see his hand in ways we could not see it then.
When we reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past we are filling up our “faith bank.” The result is that our faith is freshly empowered to believe God for the future. New visions, new tasks, new callings await each of us in the empty-nest season. They will likely involve a risk which can be scary. But as we contemplate God’s specific involvement in our lives in the past we’ll be more likely to take that step of faith for the future.
Susan Yates has written thirteen books and has spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of marriage, parenting and women’s issues for many years. For 11 years she was a regular columnist on parenting for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Susan is the mother of five and has 21 grandchildren, including a set of quads. She is devoted to sharing her wisdom and experience with moms and wives and is selflessly available to those in need. Susan has been a mom for 40 years, she and John have been married for 43 years.