“Oh, that I were as in months past, As in the days when God watched over me”
My phone currently contains over 900 photos. Each one reminds me of something from the past few years. Most are pictures of my family or some fun activity we did together. Whenever I travel, I find myself scrolling through those photos and remembering the times we spent together. Job has a similar experience, in the midst of his trial, he begins to look back at a time in his life when things were much better. He reminds himself of how things used to be and longs for those days to return. Looking back, especially in trying times, can be very helpful, but it is important how we look back.
As Israel walked with God, they experienced some pretty amazing things. They received tablets written by the finger of God, had manna miraculously appear on their doorstep each morning, and saw the Jordan part. After each of these events, they were instructed to memorialize them. The tablets and manna went into the ark, and an altar was built near the Jordan crossing. Each of these events was to remind them of how God had worked in the past. There is great value in looking back at how God has ministered to us, and the ways we have served in times gone by. When we find ourselves drifting from the Lord, it can be helpful to look to a time when we were tight with Him, and repent and do our first works.
That being said, looking back can also be detrimental. Paul declared, the secret to his success in following Christ was his refusal to look back. That does not mean he had no memories, but that he did not live in the past. Bruce Springsteen sang about the glory days, portraying a person who let past experiences be the best days of their life. I do not think our best is behind us. No matter what your past may have been like, God desires to do a work in your present, and your future. Rather than always looking back, take some time to look up and receive your marching orders for today.