So, after that jolt to my system that ended my obsession with Little House on the Prairie, this verse came up in my head from time to time throughout my growing-up years. I was particularly reminded of it when my father would tell us how much he wished to be a kid again, or how much more fun we were when we were small. (Note to teens: Don't bother quoting the Bible to your parents. You're not going to win that argument.)
But I would catch myself at it, too, particularly in high school when I wished for my newly-graduated friends back again in the drama club. And of course it hit me again when I was an aim student; the aim program is, after all, one long series of good-byes, and I often wished I could rewind a few months and have all that fun again.
In my adult life, though, is where this verse has taken on a more serious tone. Of course I want to go back to a time I enjoyed; of course I want to undo some unpleasant changes that have happened in my life, of course I want my deceased loved ones back again. But to wish to turn back the clock... No, Solomon was right. Such a wish is unwise.
First of all, it's unwise just because I was less wise then! Pretty simple concept, I should think. How else could I learn & grow if not from living through the rough stuff? How could I possibly enjoy the good times for what they are, if I didn't know what the opposite was like?
Second, I know for sure that I'm looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses. More focused reminiscing brings back the awkwardness, the unhappiness, and the other icky parts of living that I've had at every stage. In fact, too much time spent recalling the past in this way leads me to want to hide under something just because the flood of embarrassment washes over me.
And most importantly (to me), wishing for the past to return denies God's ability to do something fantastic with my future. When I lived in Scotland, I felt like I had real friends for the first time in my life. Guess what? I have that now at South Plains, but it took me a looooong time to see it because I was so focused on what I had left behind. While what has happened before, and the people I knew before, may be wonderful, that doesn't mean that God doesn't have something just as great happening in my present, or that the future will be any less fantastic for having had a brilliant past.
The road ahead is hidden, and God only gives us one step at a time. But I'll never see it if I can't take my eyes off the brightly illuminated road behind me.