Often we younger people will hear our elders speak of the “Good Ole Days”, referring to a time in the past that they look on fondly. Usually it’s speaking of a time that is unlike today and, looking back, seems so much better than the here and now! “Remember the good ole days when mama used to make bread every Tuesday and then we’d slab some homemade butter on and eat it on the front porch!” haha you get the idea.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own “good ole days”. You see…I’m beginning to realize a pattern in my own life. A pattern of looking back and seeing just how good I had it. The problem is, many times when I’m in the midst of those good days I don’t see it as good! In that moment, it’s not as good as it used to be. Or I find myself saying, “if only”. My expectations haven’t been met!
It’s so funny to watch how this progresses in life! “Remember the days when we didn’t have kids and could just be spontaneous and do what we want?” Then you have child #2 and you say, “Remember the days when we just had one child?! Man…life was easy then. This “two kid” thing is no joke!” Then child #3 comes along and you say, “ Ok…just kidding…two kids was a piece of cake!” And so it continues. “Remember when our house was clean all the time because there weren’t toddlers tearing it apart at all hours??” Then you move to a smaller house and you say, “Wow…That was so easy when the house was bigger and the messes weren’t so compacted.” Then you move into an RV (personal experience here) and you say, “Wow I had it good when I was in a house instead of on wheels!”
Do you see the pattern here? Whatever hard thing we are currently in, we fail to see the goodness until it is taken away. Then we think “wow I actually had it very good!” Instead, we choose to complain and to blame our discontentment on our circumstances. How much happier our lives would be, and our homes would be, if we chose to find the goodness of God in wherever He has placed us.
I don’t know about you, but when I read about the children of Israel in the book of Exodus and how they complained about their lack of victuals, I scoff and think “I would never complain like that.” And yet…I do. They often referred back to their time in Egypt and how good they had it. They failed in that moment to see God’s goodness all around them.
When we moved into our RV a few weeks before hitting the road for our second stage of deputation, I found a sign at the store that said “Find Joy in The Journey”. I’m usually not a huge fan of cliche phrases but this struck me as such an important reminder in this very issue I’m speaking of.
You see, it’s not about our “arriving” at our perfect comfort level. (Hint: you’ll never get there.) It’s not about circumstances reaching the point that we’ve always wanted and so now, finally, we’ll be happy. (Hint: you won’t be.) It is the journey through each of these stages, each of these circumstances that we are to have the joy of the Lord. It’s through this process that we are sanctified and can grow in Christ.
Can you imagine if you finally reached your goal of perfect circumstances? Can you imagine what life would be like if you got everything you wanted? Do you think you would be happy? Every time I have thought “such and such will finally make me happy” when I got it, I wasn’t happy. Because that’s not what I was created for. I was created to be fulfilled in Christ and He is the one who gives me joy in every circumstance.
As I sit here in our home on wheels, I am incredibly thankful. I do not want to look back at this time and think about how hard it was. I know there will be things about it that will be hard and I will be tempted to think back to the “good ole days” when things were different. But God has put me here! And so there will be many many things about this time of life that will be incredibly good! We must choose to make the most of each circumstance.
Paul said it so well in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Make today a “Good Ole Day!”
Alyssa, along with her husband Benjamin and her two children, are preparing to go to Northern Thailand as missionaries. Other than cuddling up with her toddlers and their favorite books, Alyssa enjoys music (playing and listening), baking, reading, and sharing what God is doing in her life. Read Alyssa’s salvation testimony here and read more about Alyssa’s every day life in Thailand here.