Looking to the Past
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us.” Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 ESV
It deeply frustrates me how hard you have to search in our culture now to find pieces of the past that are cherished and beautifully preserved. Monuments are constantly being vandalized. Elaborate architecture is blasted away to make room for new sky scrapers. Everything must be re-built in the name of progress and practicality, but at the expense of beauty and tradition. And in the process, we as a society have gained more and more of a condescending attitude toward things of the past. We don’t appreciate the work of previous generations, but rather disdain it in favor of the next most useful innovations.
Ecclesiastes tells us that although we might like to think that our generation—our whole era, even—is the brightest and most promising, there isn’t much that we can really claim credit for. That may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Our ideas, our cities, our families, and our doctrines are all built on the foundations of that which has gone before us. Who are we to blindly trail-blaze our way forward without consulting the map that others have painstakingly preserved?
We should seek to cherish and understand history. We should ask the advice of our elders. We should read books penned ahead of our time. We should reflect on the faithfulness of God and the work of His people who have gone before us in this life. Only then will we have the humility and wisdom to proceed in the work He has given us to do in the future.
Father, thank you for what you’ve done not only in my life so far, but in the time before me as well. Give me humility and discernment to know what aspects of the past are worth repeating and what needs to change, especially as I step into this new year.
Take the time, if you haven’t already, to list and reflect on some of the things that God accomplished in your life last year, and thank Him for all He has done for you. Repent of the things that haven’t pleased or honored Him, and rejoice at what He is working together for the future.