The Heartbreak of Memory

“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshippers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!”
— Psalm 42:4


Years ago, I would sit in front of a country store near my grandfather’s home and listen to the “old-timers” recount the way things “used to be.” My mind raced with imagination as I pictured the times these older men were describing.

One older gentleman would always conclude his stories with a peculiar  statement that I have never forgotten: “The problem with the future is that the present just isn’t what it used to be.”

Anyone with an ounce of perception knows that things in our world are not getting better. We are racing toward spiritual, moral, social and financial bankruptcy. If you are my age (old as dirt), you can agree that this is not the world we grew up in. There is almost no resemblance to the world of our childhood.

As an “eternal optimist,” I know that I have only great things ahead in my life because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Trials and storms will come and go, but I will not face them alone or without a source of strength beyond myself.

For the last month I have not written because of the severity of my broken heart. I have been remembering (like the psalmist) how it used to be. I remember how there used to be a deep longing for God (42:1-2). I remember how there used to be an overwhelming sense of conviction of sin and the holiness of God. I remember the terror of judgment that gripped the hearts of Christians concerning their lost
loved ones. I remember the challenging responsibility that drove the church into local and foreign fields to share the gospel. I remember the passion with which Christians worshipped; robust singing, faithful giving, passionately agreeing with the message of the pastor, and enthusiastically sharing about what God was doing where they worshipped.

I have learned that if I am passionate for God, there will be times that my remembering will bring heartbreak. The questions come: “What have I done (or not done) to contribute to the current state that we are in?” “What is my responsibility in becoming an agent of change in my/our current situation?” “Am I willing to write God a blank check with my life and thus stem the tide of this bankrupt situation?”

If our hearts are broken over the current mess we find ourselves in, how must God grieve over us! Let us turn from our sin and our selfishness and turn to the Son. Let us seek Him with all our hearts….and remember…

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