Yesterday

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Last night, as we are on the vispera (Spanish for “Eve” or “time before”) of another year, ending 2016 and beginning 2017, I didn’t sleep well and lay awake for long periods of time. My thoughts went to the word “yesterday.”

Let me begin by saying that some of my favorite songs, either musically, lyrically, or thematically revolve around “yesterday.” Looking back, reflecting, and reminiscing is something we do somewhat automatically, I suppose, especially at year’s end, but it’s probably a good thing to do from a biblical standpoint: “number our days to gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12), allow the past (history) to be our teacher (Psalm 78), and remember that “our times are in his hands” (Psalm 31:15).

One of the prettiest songs from the 60s was “Yesterday” by The Beatles.

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

 

Lovely, soft, melancholy – it is a song that almost anyone would like. Thinking back to an earlier, happier time is so typical of we humans.

 

“Yesterday, When I Was Young” – by Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer, was released in 1964. The most famous and best-remembered version was by country music singer and Hee Haw host Roy Clark. The song contains a haunting and powerful lyric about someone who has lived life selfishly and now looks back to all he has lost and wasted.

Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away
Yesterday when I was young
So many drinking1songs were waiting to be sung
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me, and nothing else at all
Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday when I was young.

 

Then there was a song from the 1970s, written by the legendary bass singer for the Cathedrals, George Younce, “Yesterday.” I probably first heard it in the late 70s or early 80s, and always felt that it ministered to me:

(Chorus)
Yesterday things were different
Today they’re different again
Jesus will never change
Jesus is always the same
1. The sparrow will find a new dwelling
The eagle will change its nest
But I’m holding on the changeless One
And I’m leaning on His breast
2. The river will change, change its course
The mountains may crumble and fall
Time will leave its mark, they say
Upon us one and all
Repeat Chorus

The song resonates powerfully in response to the fact that we live in a world of change (“yesterday things were different, today they’re different again”) by triumphantly affirming that “Jesus will never, never change, Jesus is always the same.” It’s wonderful to have that hope (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17).

 

Finally, we go back over 100 years to A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He wrote a song that isn’t sung much today, except perhaps for the chorus, but what a truth it expresses!

O how sweet the glorious message simple faith may claim
Yesterday, today, forever Jesus is the same.
Still He loves to save the sinful, heal the sick and lame
Cheer the mourner, still the tempest, glory to His Name.
Refrain
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same.
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!
Glory to His Name! Glory to His Name!
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!
He, who was the Friend of sinners, seeks the lost one now
Sinner come, and at His footstool penitently bow
He Who said “I’ll not condemn thee, go and sin no more,”
Speaks to thee that word of pardon as in days of yore.
Refrain
Oft on earth He healed the sufferer by His mighty hand
Still our sicknesses and sorrows go at His command
He who gave His healing virtue to a woman’s touch
To the faith that claims His fullness still will give as much.
Refrain
As of old He walked to Emmaus, with them to abide
So through all life’s way He walketh ever near our side
Soon again we shall behold Him, Hasten Lord the day
But twill still be this same Jesus as He went away.
Refrain

Argentinian evangelist Alberto Motessi preached a message in which he spoke of Christians who focus on a Jesus who lived and worked in the past (historical). Others focus on a Savior who will live and work in the future (echatalogically). He goes on to say we should fervently believe in a Savior who is alive and working today. That is so true, but our trust in Him today flows from who He is and what He has already done through the cross, the resurrection, His immutable nature, and His faithfulness in our lives.

 

Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Let’s live for the One who is eternal, unchangeable, and always faithful.

 

The days pass so swiftly, the months come and go
The years melt away like new fallen snow.
Spring turns to summer, summer to fall
Autumn brings winter, then death comes to call.
Only one life, so soon it will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one chance to do his will
So give to Jesus all your days, it’s the only life that pays
When you recall you have but one life.2

 

  1.  Roy Clark’s version substituted “happy” for drinking.
  2. Only one Life by Lanny Wolfe

2 thoughts on “Yesterday

  • January 11, 2017 at 1:12 pm
    Permalink

    Great inclusion of George Younce. That song is a favorite of mine as well.

    Reply
  • January 11, 2017 at 5:39 pm
    Permalink

    Great reminder and encouragement. Too often, we look ahead to the future when times are tough. Or, we can’t see around the present. It’s good to look back and see what God has done in our lives in the past, realizing He is still working in our lives today and for the future.

    Reply

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