The Alternative To Living In Yesterday

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
— Proverbs 4:18 ESV

There is a world of difference between remembering yesterday and lingering in yesterday.

In 1933, Raymond Moley was at the center of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inner circle. He was FDR's chief speech writer and his "closest, most intimate adviser." He was Time magazine's Man of the Year. Some considered him "the second strongest man in Washington." How strong? An often-told joke had an old friend of Roosevelt calling up to plead with the president, "Franklin, can you do me just one favor? Can you get me an appointment with Moley?"

How does such a bright light in the political sky dim so quickly?

Moley broke with President Roosevelt after only six months, eventually switching political parties and ultimately writing two memoirs negative of his old boss. His last book, The First New Deal, was published when Moley was 80, a full thirty-three years after he left Washington. In its review of this book, Time observed:

“Lives sometimes focus not on a major triumph, but on a major disappointment . . . Raymond Moley, now 80, has chosen to linger in a departed yesterday that let him down.”

Please read that sentence again slowly and carefully!

It is tempting to linger in the departed yesterday, to dwell on things long past, things which we cannot change: a debilitating injury, being passed up for a promotion, a stinging criticism, a pink slip, a rejected manuscript, a spouse who left, a company that failed, or a "brilliant idea" that never materialized.

Life moves on and so must we. Just ask Richard Smith. The octogenarian was awarded his Ph.D. in history from Florida International University at age 87. The newly graduated "Dr. Smith" said, "You move to Florida, you play golf, you go to the beach, and you get on your wife's nerves. I decided pretty quickly I had to do something else."

Smith refused to linger in the departed yesterday. He took a different path.

How about you?

God wants you to remember the past, and to learn from the past, but it is not wise to linger in the past. Focusing on your disappointments will cripple you and replaying your highlight reel won't sustain you.

Raymond Moley was living proof of that.

God has a better plan: Rest! Rest in the fact that he who has been working on your behalf from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4) will take the pieces of disappointments and craft a beautiful mosaic (Romans 8:28). He is, after all, the first and best Artist (Ephesians 2:10).

No wonder Solomon wrote:

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
— Proverbs 4:18 ESV


[1] Center of the inner circle from Adam Cohen, Nothing To Fear: FDR's Inner Circle And The Hundred Days That Created Modern America, New York: The Penguin Press, 2009. p. 8.

[2] "Closest and most intimate adviser ..." from Cohen, Nothing To Fear, page 8.

[3] "Franklin, can you do me one favor ..." from Cohen, Nothing To Fear, page 56-57.

[4] "Lives sometimes focus ..." from Cohen, Nothing To Fear, page 293.

[5] The journey of Dr. Smith from Ryan Brown, "A Ph.D. in History for a Man Who Has Seen a Good Bit of It" in the Chronicle Of Higher Education, September 4, 2011. Accessed September 7, 2011.