Yesterday is an ambiguous word. It is easy to understand yesterday in terms of “the day preceding this day,” but what about in terms of “a short time ago”? In my temporal view, the day before this day really seemed no different than today. The routine remained much the same. The alarm woke me before I was ready. The kids were fed and delivered to school. Errands were run. Work was accomplished. The clock hands raced to the day’s end before I marked off everything on my “to do” list. And, I once again wiped tears from my eyes because my heart still weighed heavy with grief. But, if I step back and look at yesterday as a short time ago, my view changes. My life was profoundly different. I often find myself longing for that yesterday – a time when the chapters of my autobiography were being written according to my plans and dreams. A yesterday when we brought our firstborn home from the hospital and I was gripped with the magnitude of raising this tiny little person. A yesterday when at age three this precocious little boy asked me how gas got from the gas pedal through the engine to make the car go. A yesterday of little league, lemonade stands, astronaut dreams, school functions, and loud music. A yesterday of his goofy humor and kind heart. A yesterday of watching him grow and mature. But what am I to do with this yesterday?
Society seems to be in disagreement about the importance of yesterday. The pendulum of belief swings from one group that seems to think that yesterdays don’t matter, to a group on the other side who believe that today is shaped by yesterday. The first group chooses to live only in today, leaving yesterday behind because it no longer exists and can’t be recovered or changed. The latter group holds that yesterday is an invaluable teacher for today. John Wayne said, “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.” There is validity in both opinions. Yesterday is indeed over and cannot be retrieved. We all have unpleasant things that are best thrown off and left on the floor of yesterday rather than being lugged into today. Sometimes we cannot move forward because we allow the past to stalk us and hold us captive. We let the past create walls that box us in and make us blind to new opportunities. Yesterday doesn’t define us, but it certainly should shape us as we step into the days that follow. Abraham Lincoln said, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” So, where does this leave me in this confusing realm of time? It leaves me with a desire to shift my perspective and look through the eternal lens of the Author of time. To allow my pendulum to swing in both directions so that its movement might drive my measurement of time to a more eternal context.
What is time anyway? We sit and stare at the clock on the wall as its hands chase one another in an endless circle, dictating what to do and when to stop doing it. The hands squeeze into one another, never fully stopping only to start their circling once more. The truth is that time is just a concept we use to measure minutes, hours, days, months and years. In our humanity, we watch a clock or flip pages on a calendar trying to understand this creation of God which marks the duration of life and which is measured by changes in the created order. But God set time in motion.
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.” Genesis 1:14-15
You see, our faithful, eternal Creator spoke yesterday into existence, walks beside you today, and reigns forever in heaven. And, while we see ourselves in the context of yesterday and today and the pain that grips us, our Father sees us in the context of forever.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
So let me look with my Father’s eyes at yesterday. Let me throw off the filthy rags of yesterday’s sins and struggles that encumber me, the guilt of “if only” and “what if”, and the memories that hold me captive, clouding my vision of hope and leaving me depressed. Let me continue to trust Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider who was faithful yesterday and whose steadfast love endures forever.
“For the LORD is good, his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100:5
It all sounds good and easy, right? But how do I replace my clouded temporal lens with God’s eternal lens that glares with heaven’s radiance? My memories of yesterday leave me conflicted, each with a nature of its own that either brings tears or laughter, fears or joy. I’m caught in a perpetual struggle. On one hand, I cherish the wonderful things that happened in the 27 years that we had with Taylor. On the other hand, these recollections leave me feeling cheated and sometimes even victimized, robbed of the opportunity to create new memories. On one hand, I long for the sweet memories to surface in my dreams. On the other hand, I fear nightmares and dread knowing that I will wake and find my sweet dreams only that – a dream. With one hand I pen the memories on the paper of my journal, because on the other hand I fear that the sound of his voice, the feel of his embrace, his exuberance for life will fade from my memory with each passing day. With one hand I wipe the tears. With the other hand, I praise my God who gave me the gift of my son. Each day I don my boxing gloves in this sparring match with yesterday and I pursue a part of my healing that will allow me to cherish my memories without letting them control me.
In scripture, the concept of memory of yesterdays is not limited to mental recall, but implies acting in accordance with what is remembered. It leads to action. We find this in Joshua 4:4-7 when Joshua instructed the representatives from each of the 12 tribes to carry a stone to the middle of the Jordan to serve as a sign to future generations of God’s faithfulness in carrying them through the water. In I Samuel 7, Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” These men of God knew that a visible reminder of God’s provision would help give hope to others.
In Psalm 42 the sons of Korah find themselves discouraged and depressed because they were in a place of exile.
3 “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your wav have gone over me. 8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life… 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Remembering God’s faithfulness before their exile, lead him to praise and rejoice because there was hope for the future.
Be intentional in looking for yesterday times that the Lord was faithful to you. Make an Ebenezer list of times God has provided for you and demonstrated His steadfast love for you. Keep it in a place where you will see it often. I keep mine in my Bible. Let the problems and pain of yesterday be lessons for today that encourage you rather than stalk you. Use the stones of yesterday – God’s provision, His mercy over sin, His triumph over struggle, lessons learned. Lug each one and carefully stack them upon one another building a tower. Let the tears that flow from your memories be the mortar that holds the stones together so that they will become a solid structure; a place of refuge and security in the current storm. Let it be a mighty fortress that elevates you to see above the fog to the God of hope. The sovereign God who knew what yesterday would bring. The God who sits on His heavenly throne forever, but who cares enough about your today to wipe your tears and lead you to tomorrow.
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform the destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”
May God’s faithfulness yesterday give you the hope to trust him with the tears of today and the uncertainty of tomorrow.
“…Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come…” Revelation 1:4
Praying you find peace today in The God of Hope,