Just a generation...
Ronald Reagan once said:
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling
our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Maybe that's what I'm doing as I write this...
Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite painters. His pictures always told a story, and the message was never
Norman was born in 1894 and died 1978. He saw the 20th century emerge, lived through its two world wars, and
experienced a generation that saw more changes than any other (past or present).
It is almost ironic, but all those who may have lived some of Rockwell's years seem to have a perspective about life that is unique. But for those who didn't share those times it is almost impossible for the word "freedom" as expressed today to have the same meaning.
The picture I have put into this letter illustrates this: an old grandmother and her grandson praying over their meal in a public restaurant, and across the table two young men staring at them in absolute astonishment...
Driving home in the rain last week with a couple of my younger friends, I was sitting in the back seat by myself. As I overheard their conversations, it was mostly about spiritual things, and I thought to myself "how good it is to know that there are still voices that acknowledge God." Then it struck me. Putting it together, "my generation" is unlike any other generation that was ever lived. For during my 76 years on this planet, my generation is the only one that saw the disappearance of a way of life that had been basically unchanged for thousands of years of history and then suddenly leaped into the modern age so fast it took our breath away. Like it was all planned....One minute we rode horses and drove wagons into town, the next thing we knew, a clangy thing called an automobile arrived. I remember that my father broke his arm cranking up our Model A Ford with an outside "starter". Then along came something better: an automatic transmission. It would start with a key! And he was so proud of the fact that he did not have to shift gears, he actually drove friends up a hill outside our town just to show he could climb it without touching a gear leverMy goodness! The car we drove in a few days ago had a positioning satellite guiding us down the road, a television showing us who was behind, a computer that gave us a readout on our gas consumption and how hot or cold it was inside and outside the car. It even remembered who was in the driver's seat, and would automatically adjust to their particular comfort level!Maybe that's what's wrong with this "modern age"..."Technology, science, and inventions have progressed at an accelerated rate during the hundred years of the 20th century,more so than any other century. We began the 20th century with the infancy of airplanes, automobiles, and radio, whenthose inventions dazzled us with their novelty and wonder. We ended the 20th century with spaceships, computers, spacestations, cell phones, and the wireless Internet all being technologies we can take for granted..."The book of Daniel prophesied of it. "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased". (Dan 12:4)This is so much of an exact prophecy that knowledge is now presently doubling every twenty-two months! But when it comes to the knowledge of God we may very well be decreasing. Paul told Timothy that in the last days many would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).
I think about my own life: When I was about seven, we washed our clothes on a rub board with soap had we made from lard and lye. After that, we hung everything out on a clothes line, including the ones we starched. Day one.
Day two we sprinkled with water everything to be ironed and rolled them into individual items.
The third day we ironed them. No washing machine, no dryer, no permanent press...not even a teflon-coated steam iron. The ones I used at my grandma's house were two heavy cast-iron monsters we heated alternately on the stove!
It is sad that so many of us "lean upon our own understanding" and that of the unsaved world to determine how to think and govern our actions. It does prove a point---people are looking, but not necessarily to the One who is the "author and finisher of our faith".There has never has been a time when those who confess they know God have failed so miserably in walking in His ways. The early Christians knew what price they would pay to follow the Lord--that was demonstrated right after the Day of Pentecost. Men and women actually sold their possessions and left everything for the "Gospels' sake". Millions paid for it with their lives, not just with that generation--but in every generation that followed. Even this day, we mourn the loss of eight medical missionaries slaughtered in Afganistan who went there simply to help treat the unfortunant.Today the "gospel" of many is to possess, acquire, and live the good life of prosperity "for ones' own sake". The thinking is that a "successful Christian" is not a person like the beggar Lazarus, but one more like the rich man. After all, a good father only wants the "best" for his children. But that is the thinking of the world.Let's examine this thought: because the wrong concept of it has led to the disastrous condition of the world and the church today.I remember the days of WWII. There were youths who could think of nothing but enlistment--as soon as possible, though they were barely old enough to vote. They wanted to fight and defend, even if the cost was their lives. There are not better words to categorize that time but as "days of sacrifice", when those who fought on the battlefronts and those who remained behind were one and the same. Because of what price the soldier was paying, the homefront gladly did without, and nothing was considered too great a sacrifice for victory. After all, those on the battlefields were their children and loved ones too!Denial of the things of this world is looked upon by the majority of Christians as a sign of weakness. And yet the One who had no place to lay His head also taught his disciples to "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me"--to "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world".After the war was over, many of those returning veterans were so traumatized, some would never want to talk about their experiences--and still don't. They simply put it all behind them and went for the good life of prosperity and peace. Understandable. But in never infusing in their children about the price they needed to pay to keep the freedom they fought for, they instead, pampered and sheltered them from every hardship and concept of denial.That thinking ended up being carried on into the church and emerging as a "prosperity" gospel. Mega churches were built on this principal. What has been the result? Ironically, there is scripture in the Bible that describes it, found in the book of Proverbs:(Proverbs 20:11) "There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and is not washed from their filthiness.There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poorfrom off the earth, and the needy from among men."I have often looked at this and thought to myself, "why did Solomon write these verses inserted in Proverbs? they seem so out-of-place, almost as if they don't belong. Yet, the wisest man that ever lived wrote them as if almost prophetically describing the generation of children born to MY generation! For so many of the "baby boomers" would grow up to become the radical hippies and flower-children of the 60s who threw off all restraints and moral decency and become immersed in doing "whatever feels good" and calling it "freedom".Solomon's "generation" had come into being in our lifetime!It is time that we admit that the whole world suffers as much for what war produces as it does from what war can destroy. Buildings can be rebuilt, bridges repaired, widows remarry. But if a war convinces us that denial of oneself is something we don't want for our children--either in the spiritual as well as the physical, the result will become a Solomon's "generation." Telling them of how much we "sacrificed" to give them the "good life" is a litany of words that have a hollow ring. The truth is "self-evident'. By crawling into our protective shell and vowing never to drag them into the reality of true sacrifice, their skeletons never develop a spiritual backbone!It takes an understanding of sacrifice to enlist, either in a country's army or in the army of the Lord. That is why we are told to "count the cost". A political candidate for president must know that he will be both hated and loved, criticized and hailed, given power and possibly paying for it with his life. But a weakling can never please anyone.What will a simple, poor watchmaker in Holland produce when he teaches his children the real concept of sacrifice? In the case of Casper Ten Boom, his willingness to shelter Jews during the war and hide them in his home from the Nazis cost every one of them dearly. Yet it produced in the generation of one who survived, strength and dedication. Hundreds, perhaps millions came to know the Lord because of what this godly watchmaker taught his children at the family dinner table. It lived on in the books written by his daughter, Corrie Ten Boom, who authored the best seller, "The Hiding Place" after walking out of a Nazi prison camp at age 50 to travel the world sharing what great truths she had learned from trials and tribulation. Even to giving thanks for the bug in her bowl of gruel and the fleas who were her bedfellows...Outside the computer that is sending you this message is a world full of people, most of them like the two young men in Rockwell's picture above---they cannot comprehend what I am saying. It makes no sense at all.But there are also millions the world over who gasp at our ingratitude for our freedom to still openly pray and give thanks like the old woman and her grandson...it too, makes no sense at all.As Reagan warned us, "If my generation (and yours) does nothing about it, we will one day spend our latter years telling our grandchildren what it was like when America was free".It seems to me, I'm doing that right now.MARY E. ADAMSAugust 2010