Change, any change, good or bad registers in our brain and sparks an emotion. It can be a seismic event producing tears and fears, or a pleasant jolt earning a smile, or a mild shaking resulting in a shoulder shrug. Change is a certainty we have been dealing with since our birth, and we generally handle it amazingly well. We go on. We deal with it.
Some changes affect our health or pocketbook like COVID and inflation. Some changes are life threatening, some bring great happiness, and others cause annoyance. Moving the macadamia nuts overnight from aisle 7 can be a very unwelcomed surprise if your knees or hips hurt and you must now search every aisle in the store to find them. On the other hand, the store’s version of hide-and-seek can be a good thing if you’re wearing your Fitbit and need to get a few steps.
Today’s seniors have seen their share of change, but I often reflect on the changes my parents encountered. My father told me his first car had a hand-crank starter, hand-controlled throttle, and complicated clutching procedure. My mother said the first telephone installed in her Queens neighborhood was in a small mom-and-pop sweet shop down the street. When the phone rang, the store owner would run down the block to tell the recipient that he or she had a call. Bet that didn’t last long, but it did bring in business while it lasted.
As a child, I remember that my grandmother’s apartment had small copper gas sconces fixed to the walls in each room that would be lit for lighting before electricity arrived in the 1920s. Before the invention of the gas mantle in the 1890s, all gas lights in homes and street lights had simple gas jets like the one in the picture. They all pointed upwards. The ones I remember were curved rather that “L” shaped.
In the home these lights were covered with glass globes (or something similar) to look ascetically pleasing and to protect the flame from being blown out. People certainly did not want to entertain friends and family on a Sunday evening in a room with what would look like a medieval torch attached to the wall!
Both of my parents grew up among aging Civil War veterans. I grew up with WWII and Korean War veterans, telephone party lines, racial segregation, and strap-on roller skates. I had to walk a mile to my first-grade school in Monterey CA and my kids walked the same distance in northern VA decades later. Quite a coincidence. They had snow but I had busy streets to cross, so it’s a wash.
Our precious 45 rpm records morphed into cassettes and then CDs or DVDs. (FYI: A Digital Video Disc (DVD) is similar to a CD. The main difference is that the DVD can store much more data than a CD.)
There were private high schools for boys and separate ones for girls. We welcomed Rock and Roll and left the Big Bands behind while having food brought to the car by roller-skating girls. Trying to be the fifth caller on our local radio station for a prize got old real fast. I felt like I had come of age when I got my first slide rule. The first kid at school with a calculator said it cost $400, and he hung it proudly from his belt for all to see.
The hospital in which I was born is now long gone. My elementary school and high school have also vanished without a trace. My father’s four brothers and two sisters have passed as well as my mother’s four siblings. They lived their lives, had children, careers, and their “stuff.” Throughout the history of the world, the pattern of life and death continuously repeats itself.
In one sense, living is preparation for passing from this life to the next. How we live our lives is of the utmost importance whether we live in a mansion or a hovel. Most people will have kids, friends, relatives, jobs, interests, and have a variety of physical and mental skills. How we use these things is important for living our life here and beyond.
At an early age, I was told the reason I am alive is to ‘know, love, and serve God’ which to a seven-year-old was easy to remember, but made no sense whatsoever. Over the years, that simple statement of purpose has provided a compass for navigating life and shone like a beacon in the darkness. That clear statement of purpose cut through the tangle of conflicting messages I received daily. It simplified my true mission and identified my desired end state.
It took me a while to understand how to ‘know’ God. A good start is to read what He’s written―the Bible. I read His book to find out who He is and what He wants me to do. I discovered that the Bible explains how we are to live our lives, what He expects of us, and what we can expect of Him. I call the Bible, my ‘owner’s manual.’ When I was having trouble understanding what I was reading, a friend gave me a helpful verse: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God...and it will be given to you.”
What is wisdom? Webster defines it as “accumulated philosophic or scientific learning, knowledge, insight, judgment.” I believe Godly wisdom is knowledge of His book and Holy Spirit inspired understanding of that knowledge.
How do you love God? Loving God implies loving others. The two are inextricably bound—you cannot love God and NOT love others.
1 John 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that love not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Mark 12:33 “And to love him with all [your] heart, and with all [your] understanding, and with all [your] soul, and with all [your] strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is [worth] more than all…burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
John 14:15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.”
Serving God means doing the will of God and carrying out His purposes, plans, and goals for our lives. Discovering His will for us is a lifelong process and is situation dependent. It is clear at times and vague at others, but will be made known as we step out in trust.
Digging into the deeper things of God was easily dismissed when we were young, but becomes increasingly important as we age. Each of us needs to be confident that we are fulfilling our God-given purpose in order to live a satisfying, peaceful, and rewarding life.
How do you anchor your life? What do you depend on to give you purpose?