They Paved Paradise

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, certain artists commonly used pastoral themes in their works in efforts to recall the simple life and make statements noting, if not bemoaning, the loss of the former day and way of life.  This same theme can be heard in music of each era as wistful longings for the past are expressed, often to great effect.  Never mind that hindsight is not always accurate, and that the good ol’ days were maybe more ol’ than good.  There is a tendency to look at the past more favorably than it deserves and to view the future with more trepidation than it deserves.  There is truth in each viewpoint, however, as there are certainly things that should endure and others that should never come to be.

But time marches on.  It is beyond our scope to recapture days or slow the ticking clock.  The new supplants the old regardless of our opinions or efforts.  Some of the places of my heart no longer exist though my memories remain.  I have worked in two churches which are out of business today- the congregants having scattered like leaves in the wind.  It will not be very long before no one remembers our names either, and the brave deeds of our lives will be little heard if at all.  For the most part, neither we nor the things we love are exceptions to the rule.  As we journey through life, we each leave pieces of ourselves along the way.  Hopefully, a part of who we are can also reach into the future with hope.   

There should be a respect for what was.  While virtue is not time-stamped, some former graces are quite lovely.  In retrospect, it’s easy to see how people missed the mark through lack of sophistication.  Of course, we should not assume that current knowledge or applications are totally correct, either, and we will be judged for our ignorance in time to come by others.  It is true that people are products of their times, and it is possible to be advanced in one age while lacking in another.  We do not control our times; we simply live in them.  Righteousness is lost and gained through the years, and perceptions change.  We can have regard for people in their days and, also, understand that right and wrong are not voting matters.

There must be acceptance of what will be.  Improvements are going to be made.  Significant advances in all areas have occurred in my lifetime.  Certainly, there have been declines, but it could be argued that any generation is not significantly worse than the preceding.  Nothing in life should be accepted without inspection, but that inspection should not be so severe that it overlooks permissible, profitable progress.  Those on the cutting edge should be encouraged not to embrace the new wholeheartedly until its methods have been vetted.  The Bible teaches us that a wise person has treasures old and new.  Wisdom is our guide in all matters of life whether we are purchasing or picking.

In deciding what to keep and what to throw away, more is needed than opinion alone.  Individual beliefs do not determine what is truly valuable though any of us may be correct on a single or set of issues.  For me, God’s Word is the immutable standard by which I imperfectly steer my ship.  Our society has placed so much emphasis on individuality that truth has lost its meaning, and none dare raise a point of dissent.  The Bible teaches us that God is there, and we can know Him.  It also teaches that truth exists, and we can attain it.  While it is true that universal agreement will not be reached on many issues regardless of effort, it is also factual that truth will not be found in the fashions and fads of the day no matter how enlightened.

Sterl      

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