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The illusion of the good ol' days

small house, rural
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My uncle from New Hampshire came down for a visit this past week. He’s a great guy! I have always been impressed with his humility and compassion. My uncle was in the United States Navy. Originally from North Carolina, he met a beautiful nurse who stole his heart while at port in Boston, Massachusetts. She, a nurse at Boston Medical, and he fell in love and the rest is history. They moved to a suburb of Nashua, New Hampshire, which itself is a suburb to Boston.

While my uncle was visiting with us, my mind went back to simpler days. I thought about the days before cellphones and tablets. A time where we enjoyed each other’s company while playing football in my grandparents’ front yard under the twinkling light from the sun dancing through the leaves of the aligned maple trees which offered its canopy above. I thought about the conversations we enjoyed, the jokes, and the games we played. My aunt, the nurse from Boston, had passed a few years back. I thought about her and the good times we had. I was always impressed by her love for books. She was the queen of bibliophiles. While she was not one who was always into the mushy stuff—she worked in the emergency room in Boston, she had to be tough as nails—I always knew she loved me. She was a woman of great faith. I often looked over to see her praying at times when she did not think anyone was looking.

As I started to think back to these times, I came to think of our time together by the classic adage, “The Good Ol’ Days.” A time where everything seemed perfect and the world seemed much better. However, during my time of devotions, I came to the realization that while we had enjoyed each other’s company, the world was not perfect even then.

In the eighties (the time that had appeared to be the good ol’ days), terrorist organizations launched attacks in Italy during the Bologna massacre on August 2, 1980. The largest mass murder in Canada’s history took place on June 23, 1985 when Air India Flight 182 was destroyed by Sikh-Canadian militants. Iran and Iraq were at war from 1980 to 1988. Iraq was accused of using illegal chemical weapons during the conflict. Not to mention the fact that the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union was in full swing during this time. What about earlier times? Which one—the age of Vietnam War in the sixties and seventies or the age of the two Great Wars (WWI and WWII) of the early twentieth century? While people were more insulated from global tragic events of the time than they are now, with the exception of spending time with my family, the good ol’ days were not as good as they seemed on a global front.

David wrote the 34th psalm. The psalm was written during a time when David was running for his life as Saul consistently tried to kill him. King Achish’s servants recognized David. David knew that Achish would either try to kill him or capture him to send to Saul. So, David feigned insanity which allowed for his departure. David could have reminisced about better days. However, during his time of difficulty, David wrote, “Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help” (Ps. 34:1215, CSB). No matter what age a person finds oneself in, it is important to seek peace and to live according to the standards of God. For while on earth, there will always be times of trouble.

Augustine of Hippo provides stellar insight concerning the illusion of the good ol’ days. In his commentary on the Psalms, he notes,

Do you not grumble every day, “How long do we have to put up with this? Things get worse and worse by the day. Our parents had happier days, things were better in their time.” Oh, come on! If you questioned those parents of yours, they would moan to you about their days in just the same way … So you are looking for good days. Let us all look for them together, but not here … There are always evil days in this world, but always good days in God. Abraham enjoyed good days, but one within his own heart; he had bad days when a famine forced him to migrate to search for food. But everyone else had to search, too. What about Paul: did he have good days, he who had “often gone without food, and endured cold and exposure” (2 Cor. 11:27)? But the servants have no right to be discontented; even the Lord did not have good days in this world. He endured insults, injuries, the cross and many a hardship (Augustine of Hippo, Expositions of the Psalms 34:17, in Ancient Faith Study Bible, 646).

Augustine is spot on! The idea of the good ol’ days is nothing more than a ruse. It’s an illusion! While on this earth, there will always be someone seeking out to hurt another. Thieves will steal. The greedy lusts after riches. The heartless remains cruel. The envious will blame others for their troubles. And nations will war against other nations.

In reality, the good ol’ days haven’t come yet. But for the child of God, they will. The good times we enjoy on earth are nothing but a foretaste, an appetizer, of greater, grander days that lie ahead. Paul, quoting from Isaiah 52:15 and 64:4, reminds us that “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9, CSB).

So, for now, realize that the good ol’ days haven’t come yet. But they will! For the meantime, find your peace and contentment in God (Luke 1:7879) while realizing that while we have experienced some good days, they are only appetizers for the great feast of peace and joy that lie ahead. The good ol’ days are coming. The good ol’ days are found in God’s kingdom; in that heavenly home he has prepared for us.

© 2019.

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

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