As we stand on the cusp of a new year the familiar song, captioned above, comes to mind. I have always been curious about the meaning of the title and so I looked it up. The generally-accepted explanation is “times long past”.
How appropriate for a time of year when we look back on our activities of the outgoing year and ponder on plans for the incoming one.
While reflecting on this, I came across the following quote purportedly by Helen Keller.
“Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.”
Now I use my imagination to guess the circumstances under which she would have said such a thing.
If you know anything about Helen Keller her life did not appear to be anything to sing about.
She was deaf and blind. But she had a caring companion, Anne Sullivan, who made it her priority to teach Helen how to read, write and more.
Now Helen could have refused to cooperate. She could have thrown a pity party and bemoan the lot she had been given in life.
In fact I would say that as a young miss, she would have been justifiably troubled by the fact that she was unlike most girls.
But she did not let what she did not have prevent her from working hard and pushing herself until she was successful.
And her attitude and hard work paid off.
Helen became the first dead/blind person to graduate with a degree in Fine Arts from what is now known as Harvard University.
How many of us though, do the opposite? Especially at this time of year, we bemoan the things we failed to accomplish; we allow her vision to be clouded by the obstacles in our way, instead of channelling our energies in finding creative ways around them.
Why do we find it so difficult to believe in ourselves?
We find ourselves suspending our disbelief for Santa Claus, fairy tales and the happily-ever-after of Disney films, yet when it comes to ourselves we are our own worst critic.
For Christians this is particularly unfortunate.
Psalm 139 tells us that we were intricately designed, by a God who we are told decided to create mankind in His OWN image (Genesis 1); this same God who we are told was aware of us before we were even conceived (Jeremiah 1).
What more do we need?
The fact is we have all been given talents; maybe not the same number nor the same gifts. But God saw to it that we each have something to contribute to this world in which we live.
And it is up to each one of us to figure out what that is and to develop it for the glory of God.
So while you consider your plans for 2017, remember that you have the greatest resource of all at your disposal.
Do not let the stumbling blocks of yesteryear prevent you from starting a new journey to success in the coming year. Those are now a part of your past – times long past – learn from them and move forward.
This is the time to answer yes when you feel impressed to do something that may take you out of your comfort zone; try something new – be your own best cheerleader.
Believe in yourself and step out with God; for with him we know that the possibilities are endless.
Best wishes for a safe, successful and spirit-filled 2017!