"Do not say, 'Why is it that the former days were better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.' (Eccl 7:10)"
This verse is really beginning to speak to me now. The older I get, the more I wish things would not change. Sometimes I wistfully think of the way things were when I was twenty years younger. Sometimes I complain about the way things are now days. If I wanted to, I could spend an inordinate about of time mourning what the times have brought to us and lamenting for better days in the past.
This passage says that this does not come from wisdom. Perhaps it is because you can never go back. The past is in the past, but the future is wide open. Perhaps it is because as believers, we are to be a forward looking people. The Bible from the very beginning has been a forward looking book. It continues to look forward to the unfolding and culmination of God's plan. Even communion, where we think of Christ's sacrifice and passion has a forward dimension to it. In 1 Corinthians eleven, Paul declares that as long as we partake of the Lord's Supper, we proclaim his death "until he comes (1 Cor 11:26)." Jesus died, but that was not the end. He rose from the grave, ascended back to the Father, and will one day return to fulfill the rest of God's plan by separating the wheat from the chaff, and gathering us to God's house.
I am reminded of this perspective as I read Paul's words in Philippians chapter three.
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:12-14)."
Paul did not dwell in the past. Oh he had some glory days in the past, but he now considered it all rubbish in the view of the surpassing value of knowing his Lord, Jesus Christ. He did not think of trying to return to the past. God had a plan and a mission for him, and his focus was on how God was going to fulfill it in him. Nothing else mattered any more than this.
Should that not be our perspective? We are looking at a new year. God will do great things through us. We don't want to try and re-live the past. Instead, we want to remember and honor the past by looking to the future and what God will do through us as we open our hearts and lives to him. Let's consider the vast possibilities that God has in us. Let's consider what God's mission and purposes are for us so that we can carry it out.