Visiting our past isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There may be times in our life when we need to look back in order to renew our faith, and rekindle hope. Sometimes we need to be reminded of how far Christ has carried us.
I remember as a young Marine humping (a Marine term for hiking) the magnificent hills of Camp Pendleton California. Each time I began the climb, confidence in my abilities ensured that I would reach the top. Wouldn’t you know it, halfway through the climb, my faith waivered and my abilities were tested. That’s when the whisper infiltrated my mind. The subtle whisper said, “You won’t make it; the pain is unbearable.” The closer I would get to the top the louder the voice became. When the ringing in my ears became too much to handle, I glanced quickly behind to see the distance I had covered. In that short glance, I discovered, I was much closer to the top than to the bottom. Instantaneous renewed faith and rekindled hope overcame the counterfeit voice. When I reached the top, I paused, and drank water from my canteen. All the while gazing into the valley from which I had came.
I remember another example of looking to my past in order to revitalize my faith through a continuing hope. When I was a little boy, maybe three or four years old, my Dad stood me erect against the door jam in the hallway of our home. He took a black marker, measured my height, and drew a line above my head. He said to me, “In four weeks we will meet here again and take another measurement.” We repeated this for about a year. Each time the new mark would inch slowly above the old mark. Growth was happening. I could see it, and appreciate it. When I turned six I tried out for the peewee basketball team, as I tried out I discovered most of the kids were several inches taller than me. My teammates kept the ball away from me. They couldn’t risk a loss due to my size. I left the tryouts distraught and depressed. When Dad picked me up, he could tell I was upset. He said, “Son, what’s wrong?” I said, “Dad, I couldn’t do it, I was too short and didn’t make the team.” Dad and I remained silent for the rest of the way home. When we got home I headed straight for my room. I was going to indulge in some self-pity. I hadn’t made but two steps toward my room when Dad spoke; he said, “Before you go to your room stop by the hallway and look at those black marks. As you look at the marks, I want you to forget about how short you are. Rather, I want you to notice how much you have grown.”
In these two experiences I have discovered the difference between “Wallowing in” and “Learning from” my past.