I was blessed with an amazingly gracious and kind mother-in-law. Looking back on some of the experiences I subjected her to, I can only imagine how she must have suffered in silence. I was never disrespectful or unkind. But I was, perhaps a bit thoughtless toward her.
She was a fan of modern-day conveniences. She was a very good cook, but everything was pretty much out of the box. In fact as Diane and I worked on Thanksgiving dinner we talked about that very fact. Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines got her business, but not ours. She would often say, “The good old days weren’t all that good.” For her, they were just old. She was not enamoured of nostalgic memories.
Time has a way of smoothing off some of the rough edges of life. The harsh realities of yesterday can easily be overshadowed by the more pressing challenges of today. That happened to the Israelites when they were wandering in the wilderness. They wanted to go back to Egypt – the very place of torment and extreme suffering. All they could remember were the leeks!
That’s so often the case with people who have overcome life’s great challenges. Recovering alcoholics too easily fall off the wagon, remembering only the buzz and seeking relief from the pain. Dieters experience much the same thing. Lord, teach us to remember the distress and pain of our wayward ways.
Fear of sin’s consequences is considered a secondary motivation for obeying God’s commands. But it is a motivation, and anytime we are able to resist temptation it is a good thing. For not only are the good old days not all that good. The temptation of sin offers a sweet promise. But the center of its fruit is filled with bitter poison.
If we fail to remember the past we will be doomed to repeat it. If we fail to remember the pain of past waywardness, we will stray too easily from God’s ways and experience a greater sadness.