Nostalgia is a funny thing, isn’t it? You get to a certain age, and from seemingly nowhere, you find yourself looking back at your history through the rosiest of tinted glasses. I’m in my mid-forties, and so for the first time, there is a generation of people looking back at their childhoods and seeing the start of technology that we recognise today. (I acknowledge that computers were around before my childhood. I’ve seen the pictures of many rooms full of spinning magnetic tape that apparently make up just one viable computer. I’m astounded that we were able to send men to the moon with technology that wouldn’t even be good enough to run a decent smartphone these days.) The kind of recognisable tech I’m talking about are things that were affordable for the masses for the first time. Think desktop PC, let me remind you of the Spectrum ZX81. Think Xbox, remember an Atari 2600. If you know about what I’m talking about, then you are precisely the generation to which I’m referring.
It’s obviously not just past technology that can make us feel a bit nostalgic. For some of us, TV shows and movies of yesteryear can also make us stare into the past where we think everything was okay, comfortable, and innocent. One such series of films is the Star Wars saga. I’m writing this towards the back end of January 2020, and the final Star Wars film (The Rise of Skywalker) is still playing at cinemas. The mainstream critics seem to love it, long time fans not nearly as much. I’m one of those fans. In fact, as I said to my kids just a few weeks ago, with the first movie coming out only 2 years after I was born, it’s like we have grown up together. I am, admittedly, a sci-fi geek. With this love of the genre deeply instilled within me, I have an emotional affiliation to this movie franchise.
My generation has seen many things from the Star Wars saga infiltrate our culture in a way that really is quite unbelievable. Especially when you think the first movie was originally intended to be a fairytale story for kids set in space. Who doesn’t know the phrase, “May the force be with you.” This phrase has even got its own day that people recognise, May the 4th! How many of us immediately know what a lightsabre is? (Originally it was called a laser sword, I’m glad George Lucas changed his mind on this one.) We know all the moves when playfighting with a pretend lightsabre, we even mimic the sound. Talking of sound, who hasn’t at some point tried to do a Chewbacca impression. I bet you just thought about it, maybe some of you just tried it!
Like many my age, I’ve grown up with this saga as a virtual sibling. The culture of which I am a part has been forever changed because of it. Maybe it’s because of this that whatever they might have done to bring the sage to an end would never have been good enough for most people. Like a good book, we are desperate to know how it finishes, but we never really want it to end.
Book and movie series, video game consoles, music formats like vinyl and even cassette, are just some nostalgic things that are finding their resurgence right now. It’s like we want to keep re-living the past because we’ve learned the future comes quickly, and we know that all things humans create will fade away eventually.
We seem to be investing so much these days in trying to bring back things that have had their day. There is nothing inherently wrong in doing this, experiencing nostalgia can bring us joy and the happiest of memories. There is a danger, however of trying to live in the past, not really wanting to move forward, not accepting that things change and develop. The risk is that we tie our identities into something which is temporary and fleeting and so who we are can feel ethereal and fluid, unanchored.
There is something, or rather someone, on whom we are better to join our identity with, and that is the person of Jesus. He is the Messiah who came to seek and save those who are lost. Rather than tying our identity to what we do and what our interests are, which are ultimately limiting and can change so quickly, we have all been given an opportunity to find our identity in Christ. Why live in the past when Jesus presents us with a glorious future? In the Bible, it says that anyone who comes to Christ becomes an entirely new creation, everything about us becomes fresh and original!
Are you hanging onto your past? I think it might be time to let go. Live in the now and deal with any challenges you are facing with Christ at your side. Are you fearful of what the future might hold? If your identity is rooted in the past, then how can you ever face the future with any kind of bold assurance?
Remember who you are, not what you were. Think of who you might be if you root your identity fully into Christ. In 1 Peter chapter 2, it says that you are God’s chosen treasure and that He has called you out of darkness into light and He claims you now as His own, to broadcast His glorious wonders throughout the world.
Nostalgia is a beautiful thing, but only if we acknowledge that which it is presenting to us has had its day. I encourage you to spend more time looking forward to an awesome future as you go on new, amazing adventures with Christ.
And when you hear Him say, “I love you,” you can confidently reply, “I know.”