Five years ago, when this blog was launched, seems like a lifetime ago in so many ways. Our family has grown since then, with a new son-in-law added to our fold and several precious grandchildren born. Our life, which had been roughly the same for so many years, has changed quite a lot, with a different home and ministry assignments, with the emptying of our nest, and with the relocation of people we love dearly. My hair is quite a lot more gray, my wrinkles are more deep set, and my body frequently lets me know I’m not getting any younger. I am sure that the same is true in your life - five years goes by in a blink but contains so much living.
Collectively, we endured the strange Covid era, which was certainly a marker for this whole generation. Regardless of political perspective, we are just now beginning to see the ramifications of pushing pause on society for a year or more, all the while upping the volume on fear and uncertainty in every way. It doesn’t seem that we have emerged from that time in a better place as a whole.
I am aware now that my over-50 status gives me a particular vantage point with my own cohort and those ahead of us - we can really remember what things were like before. Working with university students all of our adult lives has accentuated this to me. I feel like a covered wagon, Oregon trail participant because I know what the convenience store name 7-11 stands for, I remember when we had to wait patiently for radio stations and movie theaters to release new things, and I remember when there were only 3 tv channels. I can remember when all 3 of those stations used to play the national anthem and then cut to static every night at midnight, meaning there was nothing at all to watch mindlessly until morning, especially before VCRs came along. I remember when nothing was open on Sundays, when there was no such thing as an ATM or a debit card, and when answering machines were invented. More than that, I know my parents’ stories and experiences from their lives, and can remember what my grandmother’s stories told me about her generation and her own life that began in 1900. It isn’t just a myth that life used to be a little slower and less frantic, more relational and less virtual. The world is always changing!
I also vividly remember life BP - before phone. I was 29 years old when I got my first cell phone, and it could only text and make calls. I was in my late 30s when I got my first smart phone. I lived a lot of life, even adult life, before that little device entered my life. I do love it because now the best camera I’ve ever had, plus my phone, address book, flashlight, travel atlas, years of photos, and an entire encyclopedia set can fit into my purse. But it isn’t as innocuous as it looks. Five years ago, no one was sure how much the constant, instant access to the glories and horrors of the World Wide Web was impacting everyone, but now all of us who can remember life BP can see clearly what those things are doing to young people, and it isn’t great. Worst of all is the fact that when being glued to a screen has been normal to a person since they were very small, they might never know that what they’ve ingested for tens of thousands of hours isn't true after all, or that life can be any different or better than just virtual reality.
I am even more convinced of the need for us to share from one generation to another - not just of social things, but especially of our faith.
The 80s were such a great time to be a young person - I mean, as long as you take away the real and constant threat of the Cold War and the fact that we actually had regular drills at school in case a nuclear bomb was coming our way. Not one kid ever thought our plywood desk was going to keep us safe from an atomic bomb, as long as we ducked and covered in time! Thank goodness there was no social media then - we would have all been terrified, all the time. But aside from that, the 80s were amazing. The energy and optimism of Whitney Houston and Rocky Balboa and Back to the Future marked our generation.
So how sad it was to see one of our greatest action heroes of that era recently announce to the world that he doesn’t believe in eternal life at all, let alone in God. Like so many others alive today, he believes this is it; that all we have is today, and no promise at all of tomorrow or forever. When a person believes that, it marks and changes everything they do. When an entire society believes that, it will radically alter a culture that was originally built upon the foundation of Biblical Truth. If this is it, why not do everything only for my own pleasure, safety, and benefit? And why not be terribly afraid of or angry at everything that threatens life, pleasure, and safety? And if people really believe this is all there is, no wonder so many people are so frustrated, anxious, and confused about life and its meaning.
As followers of Jesus, we believe that this present reality is not all there is to life. Life here and now is very real and very important, but mostly because it determines what the rest of forever will be like. We were all created by God and in His image, with souls that will live forever. We are all carefully and purposefully created by God to be a beautiful and thriving part of His great, eternal story. This means that we don’t have to live like today is all we’ve got - instead, we can live knowing that the best is still yet to come. We don’t have to live in fear of losing our lives, because God holds our lives in His hands. We don’t have to make sure we just look out for #1, because God is looking out for us. We can actually love and care for others, even at our own expense, because He has shown us how to do it. We can thrive no matter what good, bad, or ugly things life on this broken planet throws our way, knowing that God works all things for the good of those who love and trust Him.
We must take care to let capital-T Truth inform our lives, and not whatever fickle social consensus has decided is true for today. We must take care to combat the relentless barrage of information being fed to us each day from sources that are sometimes just uninformed, but sometimes actually malicious. We must purpose in our hearts and minds not to engage in toxic things, or to just mindlessly scroll, but rather to think of whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. We must take care to put our minds on God and His Word, to live our lives in view of eternity, and to care for others rather than only for ourselves.
More than ever, the people in our lives need us to live like we believe the claims of Jesus to be true, and to demonstrate the power of hearts and lives revolutionized by the love and grace of Christ. Everyone gets more than enough of this world that is full of endless negative comments, lies and rumors and innuendo, tearing down of one another, and outright hopelessness - no wonder so many people are lonely, anxious, and depressed! Our family, friends, and neighbors need to see the transformation that Jesus can make in our hearts and lives - real love, forgiveness, freedom, kindness, peace, and hope. I pray God's peace and presence over your life today, as you realize more and more how your life fits into His amazing story of forgiveness and redemption!
Some new features have been added to the blog -
Keep your eyes on this space, as more is to come! For now, there is a new section called Grow, in which I will occasionally add a resource that has been meaningful to me, and that I'd love to recommend. Paying attention to our spiritual health and growth is vital, and there are some wonderful helps out there. Please take a minute to visit this new section.
Also new is the Books section, just in time for the release of my second book, available now! You can find ordering information there, or by following the link below.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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