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As I get older, I find myself living in a world that is changing faster than I can. I was warned this would happen. And now I find myself looking back to the “good old days.”
Part of my fascination with crossing over the invisible “60 year boundary line” and into this seasoned part of my life, is that I never thought I would get here. I spent much of my life believing the world “as I knew it” was about to end. I vividly remember such Premillennial Dispensational sermons warning me I would not finish high school, let alone get married.
Week after week, I would hear that Jesus would be returning in just a few short years. I wondered why they were “short” years, and not normal ones, but that was not the kind of thing you were supposed to ask. Today, it’s been over fifty “short years” since I first heard that. And, thanks be to God, it’s been about 25 normal length years since the church came to its senses and stopped preaching it.
That kind of thinking can lead to some very unhealthy worldviews. Focusing on bad news – interpreting every war, earthquake, weather upset or political scandal as further evidence that the world is ending. By looking for storm clouds on every horizon, no matter how bright the day, you begin to resent good news and are suspicious of anything that suggests life might be getting better.
And when you think of it, this is a great contradiction – you look on the past through rose-colored glasses. Saying “things were better back then,” but were they really? Life may have been simpler in some aspects. Perhaps it was safer for children to go outside to play in the old days, but I am not sure if that’s just an illusion. And, was there ever really a time when all our food was organic and no pesticides were used? Maybe – but not too long ago, there was a serious risk that you could die of what today are easily treatable diseases. As recently as 1900, the American life expectancy average was only 48.
I am not suggesting that there has been a decline in some important values. But “going back” is not the answer. A quick look at some advertisements from forty to fifty years ago shows we didn’t have it right back then either.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 offers us this advice: "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions."
To see the past as a time when things were right can be just as bad as expecting the future to get worse. The truth is that some things have gotten worse – but in other areas, life is much better.
However, it can’t be good enough. The Bible does give us hope for not just a better future – but the best of all possible futures. It looks forward to the time when God’s Kingdom will be - on earth - as it is in heaven. Whatever stage of life we are experiencing now, we can long for a future, where all tears are wiped away, and there is no more pain, no more sorrow and no more death.
As we wait, live positively, doing what we can, whoever we are, wherever we are, as a living witness to that way of life.