One of the most difficult things about growing old is sensing the ever increasing speed of change all around us.
I see it in the technical field. Back in the mid 60’s when I realized that nearly all the Christian songs I loved were being removed from being played on Christian radio stations, I bought at deep discounts, (for they wanted to get rid of them as being out of style) a large quantity of my favorite hymns and songs of testimony on 33rpm records hoping to enjoy them all my life. Records get scratchy over the years and record players grow old and fail. Now try to find a record player in the electronic stores.
I once, just for the fun of it, asked a young lady clerk in one of these stores if she had any Victrolas for sale. You should have seen the look in her eyes as she looked at me as an alien from another world.
Over the years I have accumulated family VCR tapes to play and enjoy in old age. The tapes fall apart and become difficult and then impossible to play. The audio tapes I have accumulated over the years are becoming obsolete. New tape recorders are about impossible to find.
But more vexing than technical change is the moral fog that is closing in on Christians as I see what used to be evil now considered good. Their faulty response is, “We are being freed from legalism.” Check Paul’s warning of legalism in Galatians and you will find it was the false attempt to be saved through law-keeping and self-righteousness. Paul not only dealt with legalism; but he also dealt very clearly and sharply with carnality and worldiness in the lives of Christians.
Abide With Me, written in 1847, is one of those old hymns I’ve known all my life; but never thought about very much.
What the hymn writer wrote. I understand better now than at any time in my life.
Abide with me, fast falls the even tide:
The darkness deepens, (the moral darkness of this wicked world system)
Lord with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see:
O Thou who changes not, abide with me.
I need Thy presence ev’ry passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Thro’ cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine thro’ the gloom, and point me to the skies;
Heav’n morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee:
In life and death, Lord, abide with me!
Here’s an article I wrote in February 2009, before I knew much about a man named Barack Obama. Now he is our president because he made “change” the centerpiece of his presidential campaign and the majority of the electorate wanted the change he and his congress promised.
For Better For Worse
Change can be for the better or for the worse. What changes come to America remains to be seen. I and many countless multitudes of other Christians are praying for our new president, who testifies to being a Christian; that He will read and meditate on the Bible and seek God’s face for wisdom to govern righteously and with justice.
If the Foundations be Destroyed
On the other hand, we ask with the Psalmist in Psalm 11:3 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” If his changes bring about the changing of the Constitutional foundation of our nation, we will crumble into oblivion just as other nations of the past are buried in the dust of history.
But in the midst of our fear and despair, we continue reading in Psalm 11. “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in Heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men. The Lord tries (tests) the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence, His soul hates. Upon the wicked He shall rain snares; fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.”
Are We in Control?
Basically, no one wants change unless we are in control and making the change. Of course, it’s fun to buy new clothes, or a new car or a new home. It’s exciting to start a new job, if it’s the job we’ve been seeking, or to start a new business, if it’s the business we’ve been planning for a long time; but none of us like change that is forced on us.
For example, losing our job brings radical changes that we do not welcome into our lives. Such change is bound to come. With a new anti-business climate in our land. with higher taxes and with inflation as the value of the dollar continues to plummet and an obscene national debt continues to spiral astronomically, what can we expect?
We like the security and the power of being in charge. Little children and very old people both like the security of routine. We like to keep things just the way they always were. We like familiar faces and familiar places. Little ones like the same baby-sitter. Elementary children like the same teacher, the same friends and even the same food.
A Changing World
But like it or not, things change. We live in a changing world. The 20th century was a century of tremendous change from horse and buggy to cars and jet planes, from candles and lanterns to modern electric lights, from grocery stores, much like Ike Godsey’s store in The Walton’s TV series to modern supermarkets, from winding two lane roads to a modern interstate highway system, from phonographs and wire recorders to the latest DVD and cell phones, and ever improved computers with their amazing capabilities. My head spins with all the changes in technology. Now well into the 21st century, change continues to accelerate.
We find a good restaurant. The food is excellent. The prices are fair. Then the food starts changing in quality and the portions become smaller and the price goes up. We’re finally forced to make a change. We find a store that sells just what we want in clothing. Then the styles change and we can’t find those clothes or eventually the store goes out of business and again we have to make a change. You ladies find a certain shade of lipstick or nail polish that suits you perfectly. Then you go back for more and it has disappeared.
Small towns change into large cities. I think of the greater Albuquerque area and the tremendous change I have seen in the twenty years I have been here. Someone returning after that many years would be lost here today.
The political landscape is constantly changing as Congressmen and women and presidents are changing every few years. One of the changes we must guard against is that future Supreme Court justices will so tamper with the foundation of our Constitution that we will one day have an America that is totally changed from the intent of the Founders of our Republic. That’s a change that we the electorate must pressure our representatives in Congress to ever be vigilant to keep from happening.
Family life has changed in America. Fifty years ago most homes had Moms and Dads. Moms worked at home and Dads worked at their jobs and brought home the money. With divorce common today, many families have only one parent and there is a growing number of blended families and same sex partner families. A parent or a husband or wife dies, and our world is totally changed.
In the world of finance, with constantly changing tax laws, with financial bail-outs of businesses that don’t have the charactered leadership to operate efficiently and profitably and with changing market conditions, our net worth is constantly changing. It is increasingly difficult to plan for our retirements. There is little or no job security. It used to be that young people went to college, graduated and started with a reliable firm and looked forward to a comfortable retirement at age 65. That certainty of a comfortable retirement is not the case today with downsizing, layoffs, bankruptcies and scandals.
Our health changes. One sickness or accident can radically change our lives. As we come to old age, everything changes. We gradually lose our independence. First, we stop driving, then we have trouble walking, then our hearing and vision gradually diminishes. In time we become totally dependent on others and finally we have to be taken care of by our children or move into a nursing home.
A Bleak, Hopeless Outlook
For men or women without Christ, the future looks bleak and hopeless. There is little they can do to totally control their circumstances. The future grows darker and darker until finally death comes leading to Hell and outer darkness.
The Christian’s Outlook
For the Christian, life is totally different. Because God is unchanging, and because He is sovereign and in full control of His universe, we have stability and peace in him. Malachi 3:6 Hebrews 13:8 John 16:33 When we trust Christ as Saviour, He comes into our lives by His Holy Spirit. He becomes the stabilizing keel of our ship. He keeps us from rocking out of control.
Our Unchangeable God
God’s Word does not change. His Gospel does not change. It is an everlasting Gospel. Revelation 14:6 His moral laws, principles and standards are unchanging. His promises are unchanging. The Christian’s future grows brighter and brighter as he grows older. Proverbs 4:18
Jesus does not change. Hebrews 13:8 assures us that He, who is God, is the same, yesterday, today and forever. In verses 5 and 6 of that same chapter, Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Our Coming Change
One day Christ is returning to take Christians out of this world of sin and decay. If you are a Christian, He has already begun that change in your life. II Corinthians 5:17 When Christ returns He is going to change our sin-cursed bodies to be just like His resurrected, glorified body. Philippians 3:20-21 I Corinthians 15:50-58. He is going to translate us into a world where there is no night; only unchanging, unfading glory.
Here is a little chorus I learned as a child. I find myself singing it today.
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same.
All may change; but Jesus never. Glory to His Name.