The Apostle Paul quoted the poets and prophets of his day to gain perspective in the realities of his present day (Act 17:28; Titus 1:12). It is a good idea at times to understand how people of our day think and process life. Sometimes a secular song writer, the poets of our day, captures the day in which we live. Bruce Springsteen writes how people think about the “good old days” in his 1985 rock song “Glory Days.” The song is autobiographical where Springsteen recalls an encounter he had with a former Little League baseball teammate who “could throw that speedball by you; Make you look like a fool…”. They sit in a bar and he writes, “All he kept talking about was, Glory days, well they’ll pass you by; glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye; glory Days.” Then he recalls another encounter with a former high school girl “that could turn all the boy’s heads.” She is now divorced with several children. Springsteen recounts, “We just sit around talking about the old times; She says when she feels like crying; She starts laughing thinking bout glory days.” He ends the song, “And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it; But I probably will; Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture; A little of the glory yeah; Well time slips away and leaves you with nothing, mister, but; Boring stories of; Glory days…”
The picture he paints is so accurate about people as they look at life. Sometimes a look at the past is a downer, and other times it is an upper. Perspective has a lot to do with it – where we are now and how we look at the past. Sometimes looking at the good old days can make present days gloomy. This is especially true when we long for the past to be replicated in our present circumstances. The Psalmist experiences this downer in Psalm 77:5-6 (NIV) “I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now.” The context of those words is seen in the opening verses (77:1-4) where his life is “in deep trouble” and he doesn’t sleep, and he was “too distressed to even pray.” Out of this despair he longs for “the good old days, long since ended” (77:5).
Looking back can be painful if you are looking back thinking that those days are WHAT gave me joy. Such a look causes us to question and doubt God, His character, and His displays of loving compassion (77:7-10). However, looking back can be pleasurable if you are seeing the many ways God has displayed His miracles, wonders, and powers as you “redeemed your people by your strength” (77:13-15). That perspective allows you to see WHO gave you joy. Our joys of the past are not imbedded in the experiences of the past but in the ONE who made those joyful experiences possible. And He has not changed. He still leads His people. The Psalmist says when their way looked hopeless at the Red Sea, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there!” How did the Lord do this? He did this as a Shepherd through leaders he selected. The Psalmist writes, “You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.” (77:19-20). By the way, it is doubtful that Moses and Aaron knew the path they were led by God to follow. They were just to be obedient and move forward by faith – “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.’” (Exodus 14:15-16 NLT). The result in those perilous times was a glorious celebration on the other side of the Red Sea (Exodus 15)! Looking back at the WHO gives us the faith to face the WHAT of our unknown.
The look back at the “good old days” encourages me when I see WHO was in the past events of my life and WHO is with me in the present circumstances that cause me to moan and feel overwhelmed. I do long for the Lord who is mighty and merciful. That is a perspective I want to maintain. Times are tough, but my God is mightier. The way He has been faithful in the past encourages me to remain joyful and faithful in the present. I do not sweat the small stuff. My Mighty God is bigger than all my small stuff!
Now where is my mask? I must go and buy some toilet paper! I remember back in the day there was no mask and plenty of toilet paper! Glory Days!