Vol.XX No.XII Pg.4
February 1984


Robert F. Turner

Yesterday...it exists only in fading memory, worn out photographs, and history books. And yet, it is one of the finest learning centers available to us if we will only allow ourselves to be taught.

However, there is no living space in yesterday, so don't plan to reside there. As pleasant as it was, we cannot recall it, and Solomon warned against trying to live in it (Eccl. 7:10). Although reflections upon its achievements can be encouraging, be careful: yesterday is often larger than life. How we remember things being and how they really were are often two different things. Many, though, would not want to live in yesterday. For them it is a haunted house that is filled with regret, and memories of mistakes and failures they would like to forget (Gal. 1:13).

But as wonderful or as humiliating as it may be, yesterday is not our savior, nor will it necessarily condemn us. It makes little difference how faithful we were (1 Tim. 1.19), what we meant to do (Acts 24:25), or thought we would have done (Matt. 23: 29-36). God's standard for judging is not yesterday, and one's acceptance before God is not described in the past tense. And, regardless of past mistakes, God's grace and mercy are sufficient to forgive and to forget even if we are unable to do so (Ps. 103:12).

And even if the achievements of yesterday were great, remember that the memories of men are short: we, along with our accomplishments, will not likely be immortal. Yesterday will soon be forgotten by tomorrow's generation (Ecc. 2:16; 9:13-18). "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here..." was not true of Lincoln's words but will be of ours.

What yesterday was is but a reflection of what tomorrow will be. Others have said it better: "Straight ahead lies yesterday," and "Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it." Solomon's conclusion was, "There is nothing new under the sun," (Eccl. 1:9-11). Such statements remind us that looking back can help us to see ahead. Moses encouraged the Jews to, "remember the days of old...ask your father...your elders, and they will tell you," (Deut. 32:7). And because Rehoboam refused this counsel, he led a nation to divide (1 Kings 12:8). Yesterday brethren fought and churches divided, and the next generation does the same. A careful look at yesterday might have prevented it.

Yesterday reminds us of how short life is (Job 14:1-2). Our rapidly growing collection of yesterdays make us humble. "True, today we are here, but tomorrow may see just a grave in the vale and a mem'ry of me." How easy it is to count our yesterdays. How impossible it is to know of our tomorrows.

Yesterday...our knowledge and memories of it can challenge and give courage, or depress and weaken resolve. What power there is in yesterday! Allow its power to aid in living happier today and in anticipating a better tomorrow.

David Smitherman