Finally, after forty-years, the pop-music group ABBA have released two new songs from their new album to be released in November. If you know the history and story of ABBA you will know the significance of their musical return.
The second song “Don’t Shut Me Down” contains a phrase that speaks of most people who have lived a few years; “I am not the one you knew; I’m now and then combined.” It is not hard to apply the lyrics into one’s personal life. Each of us are the result of combining our “now” with our “then.”
Ten, twenty, thirty or forty years have passed in your life. Back then, you were younger, impressionable, had all the answers, knew better than others, believed to be exempt from the travails of life.
Now, you are older, have more questions than answers. Now you listen, realize you are not exempt from the travails of life, have more regrets than expectations.
Forty years ago, I was twenty, newly married and very optimistic. Now, I have less answers and understand that life is more grey than black or white. I am tolerant of many things but recognize that tolerance leads an individual and a nation down the road of destruction.
The apostle Paul wrote about his personal “now and then.” Before his conversion, Paul persecuted Christians to the point of death. After his conversion, Paul wrote most of the New Testament in the Bible. Paul was a man with both “now and then” experiences.
Paul wrote, “… I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Paul was not encouraging us to “forget” our past. We cannot forget, nor should we. He was encouraging us to forget those failures and indiscretions that paralyze, and prevent us from moving forward to new goals, opportunities, a new life, and to whom we can be in Gods’ plan.
Our past is our past. We cannot change the past, wish it was no more, but we should not let our past determine our future. We should take the lessons learned in our past into the future so as not to repeat our mistakes. We must leave the past behind and “press on toward the goal” before us.
I do try to learn from my failures so I do not make the same mistakes again. I want to stop allowing those failures, poor choices, and indiscretions from keeping me becoming the person God has designed me to be.
The Bible states, “So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us” (Psalm103:11-12). God removes our sin and never will throw our sin back at us as a reminder. Because God chooses to separate our sin from us, we need to learn to do the same with our failures.
One word describes the process God uses to change us from the then to our now – grace. The example of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15 can be the story of every one of us. The prodigal son left the safety of his fathers’ home, demanded his inheritance, to live as he pleased only to return humiliated, humbled, and hungry. His fathers’ grace was poured out upon his wayward son who received his back his life and dignity. The story of the prodigal son illustrates the “now and then.”
Abbas’ song “Don’t Shut Me Down” tells the story of a relationship gone bad but it also describes the reality of our lives. We each are a compilation of “now and then” in our lives.
The only question to ask is will you continue to let your “then” control your life “now”?