This week has been a little bittersweet. As I wrote about earlier in the week, this is the first summer camp I'm missing since I left my job as a youth pastor. We're actually in San Diego to visit the camp, but this #TBT post reminds me that I can't let the nostalgia of the past keep me from embracing the present.
Last night our youth group gathered for a night of worship with four other churches. In the sometimes competitive and territorial world of youth ministry, our five churches have managed to come together over the past three years for winter camp. This year, in preparation for camp, we all gathered to praise God, introduce the theme of camp and spend some time together.
It was a great night.
Part of what made it so great was the opportunity to do ministry again with some old friends. Two of the other youth pastors are guys with whom I did ministry in the past. We have so much history and so many stories of pranks pulled at camp, weeks spent in Mexico and time hanging out with students.
When sitting around and sharing stories it’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgia of the past. So much so, that it makes me long for days gone by more than the days to come.
Imagine if Luke had been so caught up in the destruction of the first Death Star that he missed out on opportunities to lead the Rebels on Hoth and Endor.
Imagine if Kirk had been so caught up in his defeat of Khan to worry about traveling back in time to steal some whales.
Imagine if Apollo had been so caught up in destroying Cylons to accept his role as Acting President of the Twelve Colonies.
I love thinking about past seasons of ministry. I’ve had special times with special people when God was really working in the lives of students. I’ve even expressed my desire to plant a church and somehow bring all those people back so we can do ministry together again. Even if we were all in the same place, though, we would never be able to fully create what we had.
The past is in the past and it shouldn’t keep us from seeing the future.
We all have had amazing seasons when things were going well or God was really moving. We should acknowledge those seasons for what they were but refrain from idolizing and idealizing them. God has been good to us in the past and we need to have faith that he will be just as good, if not better, in the future.
I love talking about the “good old days” of ministry with old friends. But God isn’t looking to recreate those “good old days”; he’s looking to create something entirely new. We can’t allow the warmth of nostalgia to keep us from seeing the new thing God is doing.
How do you appreciate and honor the past without it clouding your vision for the future?