As a geezer I've experienced a few of the agonies and many of the ecstasies of life this side of heaven. They are memories etched in the synapses of this aging brain. Many of them are recorded on film, captured in precious objects, or reflected in the faces of people who have influenced this life. The experts over in the physiology department promise they are stored as explicit, implicit, and working memories, the stuff of life at several experiential levels. There's a unifying theme about them, though. They are all recollections of the past. And, isn't that a perplexing study right now, how we humans deal with the realities in the rear-view mirror? What may seem to be an ecstasy to me may appear as an agony to the next person. You see, interpreting the past is a personal thing, a decision each of us must make. And, what is more, remembering or forgetting the past aren't really options available to us.
There are times I wish I could punch the delete button or run a magnet over my tiny brain to activate some sort of forget mechanism up there. Sadly, I cannot. Forgetting is one of those nearly impossible neurosciences. The valuable stuff of life is recorded up there indelibly. To forget unpleasant or hurtful events, people, or circumstances involves much more than pretending they didn't occur. Sure, we humans relish remembering the more favorable elements of life. They often bring a smile or a nod, or remind us of something or someone who introduced delight in to the past. In any event, whether we remember or forget anything back there is a personal decision. What may bring a smile to one person may bring a shudder to another.
This Christian worldview that I speak of so often should be the guide for approximately 65% of American citizens who click the little box labeled Christian in their religious preferences. It's because the Christian worldview values the past. Not because it is always such fun and games or pleasant, but because the past is among our most effective teachers. It's a significant theme in the Bible, how we fallible humans can learn from those things that happened back there, whether good or bad. Check it out---
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through
endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15: 4, ESV
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes
have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them
known to your children and your children's children—
Deuteronomy 4: 9, ESV
Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and
he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you.
Deuteronomy 32: 7, ESV
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they
1 Corinthians 10: 6, ESV
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our
instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
1 Corinthians 10: 11, ESV
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness,
justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the
youth—Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain
guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their
Proverbs 1: 1-6, ESV
God inspired the words, instruction, and history of his redemptive work as lesson plans for those who would live the life he planned for them. In the Bible, the past is our teacher. We learn from what has happened before us.
It's true, governments at every level of life in these United States have memorialized people, events, actions, occasions, and principles in monuments, statues, walls, gateways, buildings, sidewalks, and even highway and bridge names as a life curriculum for our citizens. Some remembrances are outstanding, some not so much, depending on our personal life experiences. They are, however, our teachers, whether reflections of a good or bad past. That's perhaps why the recent destruction of monuments and memorials by protesting factions of our population have been so disturbing to me. Erasing the past is not a mature or principled action. Like it or not, the past is what it is: the past. We can't go back there to change it. The Christian worldview would have us learn from the past, not obliterate it or seek to change it.
And, we should be life-long learners, and let the past teach us something. More tomorrow about forgetting the past.