Two ladies were having a conversation about getting older when one of them turned to the other and said, "The worst thing about getting old is losing your memory. I know that I know you, but I just can't remember your name. What is it?" The other woman paused for a moment and said, "Do you need an answer right now?"
Memory is a funny thing, but it can also be a powerful tool. Moses understood this. From his instructions to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 8 as they were about to enter the Promised Land, we can glean four principles on how to correctly look at the past, the present, the future, and the Lord:
1. Let the past instruct you. Moses started out by saying, "You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness" (v. 2), and he went on to describe how God provided for the Israelites all those years. He was saying, "I want to jog your cerebral cortex. I don't want you to forget that God led you through hard times, tested you sometimes, and was faithful to you at all times."
2. Let the present inspire you. In verse 5, Moses pivoted from the past to the present: "You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you." A wise person will not completely abandon the past or enshrine the past, but simply build on the past. Your past should be a springboard, not a sofa (see Philippians 3:13-14).
3. Let the future invite you. Starting in verse 6, Moses pivoted again to the future: "Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land" (vv. 6-7). In other words, because God has been faithful to you, be loving and obedient to Him by keeping His commandments (see John 14:15). If you make following His ways your priority, then the future will be inviting. If not, it will be foreboding. So keep doing what you know He wants you to do.
4. Let thanksgiving impel you. In verse 10, Moses told Israel to look upward: "When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you." Because God has been beneficial to you, be thankful to Him.
To sum it all up: think back to the past, consider the present, look to the future, but always look up and be thankful to the Lord (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18). As David said in Psalm 103:2, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." Take some time today to thank the Lord for all His blessings and goodness and mercy—for who He is and what He has done for you through the years—even as you look forward to what He has for you next.