We had visitors last weekend and it was a lot of fun. A couple, Wayne and Joyce, came through Dulce on a trip from Rochester, Minnesota to visit some friends in the Southwest. Joyce's mother, Wilma, served at the mission here in Dulce for two years in the 1930's, just before she got married. Joyce had heard stories about Dulce throughout her life and when she learned through a mutual acquaintance that we were serving in Dulce they decided to work a stop in as a part of their trip.
We showed them around the property and town. Some things are different from when Wilma was here and some things are not. The town itself is much bigger, as most of the Jicarilla Apache lived out on the reservation until the 1950's. Joyce had brought along her mother's photos and nearly every one that showed a view from a high point there are now buildings visible where once there was empty space.
The best part of their visit was looking at Wilma's pictures with some older members of the congregation. A number of pictures had writing on the back, identifying who was in the picture, but many did not. Gaps were filled in, as our members recognized their parents and grandparents. And seeing old pictures of loved ones brought back memories and stories, of the people and the times they lived through.
Speaking for myself, looking at pictures like that from my past can nurture a longing for a particular time, or a particular day with a particular person. The "good old days," if only for a moment.
As a Christian I sometimes have moments where I long for a bit of the past. A moment when everything with God seemed so "right." A time where whenever I opened my Bible or folded my hands God seemed very near.
I usually have these longings for the past when the present seems to be the near opposite. When my day becomes so chaotic and seemingly out-of control that I begin to wonder something like this: "God, is there anything going on today that has anything to do with your kingdom? Any single thing?"
And in that chaos the memories of those precious moments have supreme value. They remind me that the chaos is temporary. We live in a fallen world. We live in a world that is filled with brokenness and separation from God.
But God's promise is that one day the world will be redeemed. One day, through the work of Jesus, God will set everything right. Those memories of nearness to God point me to the day when nearness to God will be an everlasting condition of my life.
In my own 56 years I have collected many treasured memories. But perhaps the best ones are those that point my vision forward, to eternity with God, received as a gift of His Son.