Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Good Old Days

Submitted by Kerry Patton

"Don't always be asking, "Where are the good old days?" Wise folks don't ask questions like that.” 
Ecclesiastes 7:10-20 (The Message) 7

Cruising Dreams

I was driving to drop my kids off at their day care one morning and as I turned right off Main Street, there it was: brilliantly restored, 1973 Ford Maverick.  It was beautiful; dressed in mag style wheels and a flawless silver paint job that looked like it had been applied yesterday by a paint shop master.  I nodded to the driver as I passed him and I could tell that the car was his pride and joy.  It was obviously the product of great investment and many hours of hard work.

Now maybe the Ford Maverick isn’t your idea of the ultimate cruising car to drive, but I have a strong connection to it.  You see, my very first car was a 1973 Ford Maverick Grabber.  Mine was painted in hand rubbed black lacquer with gold pin stripes and accents.  Black bucket seats, a hood scoop, a killer Pioneer sound system, and a throaty 302 V8 under the hood that scratched in two gears when I pushed it...  I loved my first car.  No it wasn’t a Trans Am, a Corvette, or a Camaro, but to me, my car was the coolest car.  My father and I had worked on it together, repairing rust spots and repainting it.  It was MY car, and I loved it.

As I watched the silver Maverick disappear from view I caught my heart reaching back: “Oh man…how cool would it be to have my old car back!”  But it really isn’t about the car is it?  What I was saying is: I remember those as wonderful innocent days, and I like the way I feel as I remember them.
Being 17 years of age, pushing my car for all it was worth through the quarter mile, or just cruising the Sonic on a Friday night.  The memory of those days is very nice.  But I would not go back. 

I wouldn’t go back because while time and recollection make those days seem very nice, those weren’t the good old days.  They were just ‘days’…Just like these are…well, days.  So what is the difference?  Why does yester-year look so good in retrospect, and how can I brighten up today…particularly if I am having a difficult time?

The Better Reality
The truth is, when I was 17, my world was far from perfect.  Like many father/son relationships, I was frequently in conflict with my father.  We had just moved to a new town, I was struggling to keep on task in school, trying to keep graduation on schedule, and hoped to fit in with my peers. Unsatisfied with the trappings of my parent’s home, I was eager to spread my wings and fly on my own.

Time has a way of making the lenses of what we see behind us as “rose colored,” softened, and more preferable.  Looking backward to yester-year can seem like things were much better then.  Maybe they were.  But chances are, they were just normal.  Regular.  They were ‘days’.  I’d wager a pound of cookies that the old-timers back then were moaning about how they missed their “good old days.”  Right?

Thirty-one years have passed since I was 17.  I’ve been through some easy days, and some days that I thought I would not survive.  Perhaps you have a similar experience.  Do you have a recollection of “the good old days?” Maybe you are going through some really rough times right now and you find yourself longing for the way things used to be.

Whatever your circumstance, I want to encourage you to cast your vision forward and trust in the Lord to carry you through.  I want you to remember to rely on Him for whatever your need is.  These tasks can be difficult, because contentment doesn’t come easy, and when we really want change…we REALLY want change!

Can I be content in times of trouble and suffering?  Can I be optimistic and affect others positively, even when the seas are storming around me?  Can I fully realize that THIS is the day the Lord has made…so I will rejoice and be glad in it…?  (See Psalm 118:24)

Honestly, it seems like so much of success is simply controlling our state of mind!  Here’s what the Apostle Paul said to the church at Philippi:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
Jeremiah 29:11 states: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

These are the good days.  So are the ones to follow…and the ones after.  Pursue contentment.

Almighty God, how often we look backward and long for what is behind or lost.  How easy it is to quit trying and decide that the good days are over.  Set my mind right, O God.  Help me to remember that you are with me today, just as you were yesterday.  Remind me that you still provide all I need, and that you have made me glad.  This is the day.  I will rejoice.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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