Breaking Up With Nostalgia

Every Good Gift!
December 19, 2018
The Joy Of Despair
January 17, 2019

Breaking Up With Nostalgia

By Pastor Vinnie MacIsaac

 

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old (nostalgia). Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

 Everyone wants to start new. Everyone wants to start over. Everyone wants to change. The problem is, most people are lying to themselves about all three of these statements. The truth is more like this: most people don’t want a new start or a do-over, or, most of all, to even change much at all! They want everything exactly the same, minus the mess! Nostalgia clings to us all.

So what stops us from changing? It is oddly simple, change, itself. Change means the old must go! The quandary is most people don’t want to let go of the old. We just want God to take away the pain we had “in the old ways,” but let us keep everything else. The truth is, we lived in our old ways because we loved our old ways. We spent our whole life building our old ways. We are actually quite proud of our old ways. We go to great lengths to convince ourselves, and others, that they are the best ways for us to live. Yet, in building our old ways, rarely did we ever stop and ask God if the ways we were building were actually His ways! Had we done so more often while engineering the infrastructure of “our ways,” He would have stopped us and told us, point blankly…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

   neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

   so are my ways higher than your ways

   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

   and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

   giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

   it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

   and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”[1]

We don’t like getting rained on, and most of us[2] don’t like snow. But it is the melting of the snow and pelting rain of the Spring that brings forth the harvest of life in the Fall that will feed you in the famines of life. We don’t like rain but water is the building block of life. The avoidance of pain, struggle, and facing your fear dead on, is the very reason we face spiritual droughts in the arid areas of life. God’s Word can only return void to us when we refuse to walk in the rain and fail to trust God that there is a reason we are getting wet, right now.

When life gets hard for us, we choose shortcuts that we design to get around the rain, and the snow, which are the very things we actually need to grow! We build life on our terms. It is grand, it is great, and it is ours, and we will not let anyone take it away from us. We just wish God would hurry up and fulfill his promise and fix all these annoying leaks in the beautiful shelter we built.

Today, I bring you the Gospel of Bad News. God is not going to fix your leaky shelter. God is not even into to fixing old things.

Today, I bring you the Gospel of Bad News. God is not going to fix your leaky shelter. God is not even into to fixing old things. Just stop it! Stop treating God like He is some craigslist handyman you call in for a discounted price to fix up your failed home improvement projects! Jesus is not coming to tack up your old falling- down self-improvements! Actually, the old ways, are never His ways. The old ways are, almost always, sin’s ways. God’s solution is not to fix your leaky shelter of a life but to TEAR IT DOWN! Guess what? The “life inspector,” came, and declared your life uninhabitable and condemned it! He has sent you to notice to vacate it before He comes to destroy it!

The hidden sin of nostalgia is being so in love with the dysfunctional old ways, that you begin to hate, resist, fight, and even go to war against the new things Jesus is attempting to do in your life, right now! There is no spiritual dualism in Jesus. You cannot love the good old days, and at the same time claim to be holding out for Paradise itself. No person will have true love for the Kingdom of God while insisting that their address remains in the Kingdom of Self. It is the sin of nostalgia to love the old over the new because Jesus never does old things in the lives of new creators.

It is the sin of nostalgia to love the old over the new because Jesus never does old things in the lives of new creators.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.[3]

Did you really think you get to keep your old self and still get to cash in on the new things of regeneration?

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”[4]

New Life!

Which is it? Are you dead to nostalgia or alive to Christ? Do you want the new ways, or for God just to put in some handy patchwork on your old leaky life? Are you willing to get rained on, that you may eat of the good food and drink of the new wine? Can you accept a little pain in a fallen world? Allow yourself to be crucified with Christ, that you might be raised with Him into your Father’s true will?

Friends, I offer you but one promise today. I promise you, you will never enter into “that new thing” God is doing, while coveting and craving the old. Why should you be like Israel of old,– ungrateful, thankless, grumbling, of God’s new way of saving them from the Egyptians, all because they wholeheartedly held on to the hidden sin of nostalgia for the onions, leeks, and quail, of the old ways. Do you not know there is a land of Milk and Honey to be gained? Why? Why? Why? Do we insist, on forty more years in the desert just to avoid a little rain and snow that would give us life?

You cannot go into the Kingdom of God, loving the Kingdom of this world. Forget the past. Bury the past. Stop idolizing the past. God is not sending you to dwell in the past, but in the new thing that He is doing! And He is doing a new thing!!! So, if you want to change, stop fighting God, stop insisting on the old, stop running back to the old when you get scared. Behold, look, pay attention, stop being so blind! You don’t have to do a single thing to change, except let go of the old, because you notice the new that God is doing in you! He is doing it. Notice! Turn your eyes from nostalgia to JESUS!

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19



The Sermon Version




Footnotes

[1] Isaiah 55:8-11

[2] at least the sane ones… My apologies to you “Winter people!”

[3] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[4] Romans 6:6-11

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