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“Once upon a time,” that is the way fairy tales start. It conjures up images of a better time. Fairy tales always start off well, then things fall apart, but all ends well and “They lived happily ever after.”
I think a lot of people are living with “once upon a time” syndrome. We idolize the past and forget that the good old days weren’t all that good. We look back to some golden era in our history and want to regain its imagined glory.
Certainly there are things in our history and past that we should celebrate. I think the faith heritage of our founding fathers is clear and should be remembered. It seems to me that the best values of bygone days, things like faith and hope, concepts like honor and duty, should be taught to our children and grandchildren.
But I do not think God ever wants us to move backward. I believe his plan is for us to move forward, to remember and build on the past, but to build for the future. Paul said, “…One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)
Paul is not saying to discard the past, he is telling us to focus on the future. I think that perhaps today we idolize the past because we are in the second part of the fairy tale, the part where everything goes wrong. Unemployment is high, families are losing homes, and we are involved in a war on terror and on drugs, despair and fear for tomorrow seem to rule our thoughts.
But remember, that is just the middle of the story. There is a hope; one that I believe comes from faith in God. We can never go back to the past, but we can look to the future with hope. God is able to restore, to renew, to rebuild and to make our nation and our communities better than they have ever been before.
Our task, our job is to look forward in faith, not to politicians or political parties, not to corporations or manufacturers, but to the God who created this world. Our task is to remember and build on godly principles of love, mercy, hard work and faithful service.
If we can do that, then better days are ahead.
If we place our faith and trust where it belongs, in Jesus Christ, then we will live to see a day when we can say, “And they lived happily ever after.”