Garth BrooksEarly in his career (1989) songwriter/singer Garth Brooks wrote a song called “The Dance”. In 1991 the Academy of Country Music awarded him the Song of the Year for this piece. Why was this song such a hit? Even today it is one of his most requested songs to be sung in his concerts. Let us look at some of the lyrics:

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared beneath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have to miss the dance.

America swarmed around the sweet melody and words that stimulated people to reflect upon memories of the past. Unfortunately, theologically, the song lacks in that our lives are not better “left to chance” so we can miss the pain.

Regardless of how old you are, all of us have accumulated a sizable storehouse of memories — some sweet and some you wish you could forget. Memories seem to resurface even without provocation at a moment’s notice when we experience a familiar odor, sound, song, picture, or event.

The memories that are sweet often bring a smile to our face. They add a special sense of peace and harmony to life that can lift-up an otherwise bad day. But what about those memories that have been crushing experiences or sour disappointments? The recollections of unfulfilled goals, disappointing conversations, misunderstandings uncorrected, and events that went a different direction than we had hoped. They too can consume our mind if we let them take residence and steal the joy God intended us to have.

Throughout his letters, the apostle Paul reminds us of three powerful thoughts. First, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14)

Second, Paul urges us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (Philippians 4:4) Finally, the apostle reminds us to present all our requests to God and to center our thoughts only on what is “excellent or praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:4–8) These three approaches help us cloud out of our hearts and minds the misfortunes and flops of the past.

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:1–14

Personal Application

As bad memories surface, get in the habit of turning them over to the Lord. Ask Him to take them from you. Pursue Him each day to build new memories characterized by Christlikeness.

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5