Nostalgia and “Stranger Things” (By Jon Perkins)

One of my favorite binge-worthy shows for the last few years is STRANGER THINGS. In case you don’t know, STRANGER THINGS is a show that streams on Netflix, which affords me the opportunity to sit down and watch a whole season in one day. Which adds to the allure of the show in my humble opinion.
The best synopsis of the show I found is this: “In a small town where everyone knows everyone, a peculiar incident starts a chain of events that leads to the disappearance of a child, which begins to tear at the fabric of an otherwise peaceful community. Dark government agencies and seemingly malevolent supernatural forces converge on the town, while a few locals begin to understand that there’s more going on than meets the eye.”
Sounds interesting, right!? Yes, the story line and the acting is great, but one of the most intriguing elements is that it is set in the 1980s, so obviously the nostalgia runs rampant in many viewers.
As I watch each episode, my mind goes back to growing up in the 80s. Riding my bike everywhere with friends, wanting to test the range of walkie-talkies, and seeing the mall as bigger than life, among other things. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to remember our childhood fondly, but hopefully as you grew older, the adventures didn’t stop. They might look differently and carry the weight of responsibility, but the heart of adventure is still there, or at least the idea of adventure is still beating inside of you.
Although I love looking back on my childhood, I have to be careful not to get stuck in the past. The same holds true in our Christian life. 1 Corinthians 13:11 reminds us that, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
Sometimes that is a struggle for us believers. We remember how great our life with God was years ago, and instead of using that to propel us forward, it becomes a hindrance in our life by believing it will never be that good.
The Bible repeatedly calls us to remember God’s great acts of deliverance. Hebrews challenges us to remember the faithless Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years (Hebrews 3:16-19). Remembering bolsters our faith in God even as it cautions us against disobedience by reminding us of the consequences.
Collin Hansen writes that, “Nostalgia is the enemy of faith. By lamenting the good ‘ole days, nostalgia tempts us to forsake the present day as beyond the scope of God’s redemption, out of reach from his intervention.”
I remember the night – or better yet the early morning – where God rescued me and adopted me into His family. It is a sweet memory and one I definitely cherish and return to often, but my faith and growth didn’t stop there. When struggles hit, and they hit heavy and hard, I thank God for His continuing faithfulness.
Our answer to that struggle of being stuck in nostalgia is to remember that Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever. Jesus who saved you is still with you. He is still working in you. He has not forgotten about you and He is not giving up on you.