The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

We have all heard stories of the “good old days.”  It is amazing how time erases all of the “bad old parts” out of the “good old days” and they become a romanticized memory that we long to experience once again.  My mom love to talk of her childhood on the “Ole John Drennan” place.  She taught us how to play “kick the Can” and “roll the hoop.”  We heard tales of Christmas past, when she got a whole candy cane, apple and orange for herself and how Granny Myers made doll clothes and Grandpa Myers made a doll bed as her Christmas present.  Because of the “good old days” we always looked for the apple and orange in our stocking on Christmas morning.  Unfortunately, we didn’t treasure them as Mom had and they ended up in a beautiful centerpiece on the table.  There were times I longed for the simple life, Mom described, running through grassy meadows, instead of a manicured lawn, walking down the lane, rather than navigating cement sidewalks and a chlorinated swimming pool seemed a boring substitute for swinging from a tree and dropping into your very own swimming hole.  Of course Mom told her share of walking a mile to school, trekking through the woods to the outhouse and how she hid behind the barn crying as her little lamb, Blackie was sent to market.  But these stories were reserved to teach us lessons when we became ungrateful.  Besides, I never had a woods to trek through or a little lamb to cry over; Oh the “good old days!”

Now, I’m sure, if my sons were writing this blog, they would accuse me of my own “good old days.”  How we had to walk across the room and turn the dial on our black and white TV to change channels, we had no x-box, DVR, and not even a VCR. A microwave was something in a sci-fi story in a book checked out at the library when we should have been researching the encyclopedia for the paper that would be typed on our typewriter, with no “delete” button.  Our bicycles had banana seats, big handle bars and we pressed the pedals backward to stop.  We spent endless hours in the backyard playing baseball, making dandelion chains and catching fireflies before taking a bath in the one bathroom with no shower.  Neighbors watched out for each other, dropped in for a cup of coffee, and knew you by name.  Mom’s hollered from the back porch when it was time to come home and if you needed to make a phone call, you literally dialed a number and stood by the wall phone unless you had an extra long cord.  Oh, the “Good Old Days!”

If only we could take the “good” of yesterday and incorporate it into the “good” of today.  I must confess, I really enjoy multiple bathrooms with showers, fresh ground coffee at the touch of a button and a DVR allowing me to record, pause and rewind my favorite programs. By instituting a few extra safeguards, my grandchildren can still run free, chase butterflies and take a dip in the lake.  It’s true they will google instead of use the card catalog but their eyes will still light up when they discover why birds fly and the sky is blue.  I can still push the off button on the remote and introduce them to the joy of fudge, popcorn and a night of playing Candy Land, Checkers, Monopoly or completing a jigsaw puzzle.  They can still hang up their personalized, designer stocking over the gas-log fireplace in anticipation of wonderful surprises the next morning.  I wonder what the stories of the “Good old days” will sound like to my great-grandchildren?

Sometimes we long for the “good old days” in our relationship with God.  We yearn for the time when the power of God was so strong in our services that even the babies were silent.  I remember when “waves of glory” would roll from one side of the church to the other that would rival a “fan wave” in any sports stadium.  The songs were heartfelt and filled with a message that touched the soul.  “Brothers and Sisters” greeted each other with a “holy kiss” and you felt loved and part of the family of God.  There were wonderful church potlucks and the children were cared for by all the saints.  One of my friends posted the following on Facebook this week, “back then church was different than today. I’m hungry for the church we used to have.”  I have made similar statements myself.  But have we “romanticized” church?  God hasn’t changed and as PCD sang “The Power is still where it’s always been.”
I was reminded of this story in Ezra.  The Israelites had been allowed to return to their home and rebuild the temple.  Ezra 3 relates how finally the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord.  The priests blew the trumpets and the people rejoiced, singing and praising God, “because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel.”  There were some, however, could not rejoice because their heart was heavy with longing for the “Good Old Days.”  Ezra 3:12 tells us, “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice.”  They longed for what had been, what could have been, and what they feared their children would never experience.  The rest of the verse states, “and many shouted aloud for joy.”  Those who rejoiced, remembered from where God had brought them and the miracle that had lead to this day.  They were excited about what God was doing at this moment and that their children could once again experience worship in the Temple of the Lord.  It might not contain all the former glory but God was doing a new thing in the congregation.
Let us not become so stuck in the “good old days” that we miss the glory of God in the “good new days.”  The key is making the service “all about Him.”  If we are worshiping God in Spirit and Truth, it doesn’t matter if we are sitting on hard benches or padded seats.  If we are lifting our voice in praise to God, it doesn’t matter if we are singing out of a worn hymnal or reading the words off a screen with background video.  If the preacher is preaching from the Word of God it doesn’t matter if he is thumping hand-written notes or eloquently speaking from neat word-processed pages.  I will gladly trade the whrrr of fans for the quiet cool of central air and the out-of-tune upright and one guitar for the harmonious blending of today’s instruments.  I loved the preaching of the “old-time” country preacher I grew up with, but I also enjoy the deep insightful teaching of men who have dug deep into the Word and received fresh revelation from God to deliver to the congregation.  You see, church is still about my relationship with God.  Will I praise Him in the sanctuary, for his mighty acts, according to His excellent goodness, because His mercy endures forever, and because He is worthy to be praised?  We are living in the “Good New Days.”  Jesus Christ is still the same, yesterday, today and forever.  Let us leave a legacy of praise and power in the Holy Ghost so strong, that our children will look back with longing at our day and say, “Surely the Presence of the Lord was in that place.”

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