Life goes on.
It is a beautiful November morning, Thanksgiving is next week and with all of the changes in my life and family, I am taking stock, refocusing, reminiscing.
Life goes on.
I am a part of a generation that is quickly becoming the “older generation.” I never saw it coming. I’m not upset about that—to be sure, I would never go back, or trade the years of meticulous training and learning that God has poured into me, for my youth. To tell the truth, youth wasn’t that great and at 62, I enjoy and am more comfortable with who I am today than even twenty years ago.
What is your greatest fear? I asked the question a few years ago of a Bible study I was teaching, and found my own answer more revealing than I expected. I had to think hard about it for a while; fear is not something I wrestle with—insecurity yes, but fear, not so much. Then the answer came to me—one of those middle of the night revelations. What is my greatest fear?
My greatest fear is insignificance—becoming irrelevant.
We baby boomers have an attitude. Because we were born right after the “War,” and into a new paradigm of national pride, prosperity, invention we became the privileged generation. We were the new America and we won the war and we had the brightest of futures. There probably was never a better time to have been born American.
As I travel through the past 62 years I am astonished at the paradigm shift: Consider the following:
Ninety-eight percent (98%) of everything that has been invented since the dawn of time has been invented in the 20th century and mostly invented in America. Putting things into perspective consider that the standard mode of transportation from the beginning of history until the 20th century was horses, and feet. For over 5,000 years there were only two ways to navigate from one place to another. In the last 100 years transportation has taken us from horse and buggy to the ability to travel in space. And that is only one small example of the monumental changes we have seen in the time span of one hundred years.
In 1948, the first commercial TV’s went on sale to the American public. My generation was the first TV generation. In 1945 there were 5000 TV sets in America. By the end of 1948 there were more than 1 million homes in America with TV sets. Ed Sullivan brought the first television variety series to American homes in 1948. With TV’s debut, families moved the family dinner hour from a gathering around the table to gathering in front of the TV. Consider the addition of the word “TV” into the language: “TV dinners,” “TV trays.” Why? Because the only programming offered was during the family dinner hour. My own family resisted that change, thank goodness. My Dad was a farmer and a railroad engineer and we had dinner around the table.
In the early 1950s, the word “teenager” was coined to define the generation of restless, sexually active, rebellious young people who had too much time on their hands with no real necessary place in the family order. These teens were “trying to find themselves.” In an agricultural culture, children were a necessary unit in the family system—they were needed to help run the farm. By the 1950s, trying to find themselves meant they didn’t know where they fit in any longer. Family dynamics changed dramatically after the War—Dad’s went to work in suits and ties carrying a brief case, instead of plowing the fields where the kids were also helping out or playing. When we moved into the post-WWII age, technology began replacing the need for human input and young people no longer had a necessary, clearly understood role in the family. Rebellion became the norm for this teenage phenomenon, defined by the James Dean persona in movies.
The first computer was introduced at the time of the TV in 1948 with the invention of the transistor, invented by Bell Labs and AT&T. The first computers, built in 1943, were operated by vacuum tubes, which were too large and ran too hot and would require too much energy for the average family to operate. The first computers took up entire floors of buildings, but the operation system has not changed much since then using the original binary math system of 1’s and 0’s. With the advent of computers, knowledge began to increase exponentially as one scientist predicted that the speed and power of computer technology would double every 18 months. It is estimated that knowledge doubles every 4 months at today’s speed of computers. While computers were used for many years after 1948 in businesses and government, it was not until the late 1980s that personal computers began to make the scene and very shortly every office had a computer at every desk, and not long after every home had a computer. This happened in less than 20 years. In the early 1990s the word began to spread that something called the “Information Superhighway” was soon to be unveiled. Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report devoted entire magazines to this new technology where we could tap into information from anywhere in the world from our home computers. How was this going to affect life as we knew it? Everyone was buzzing about it; some feared that it would create “anarchy” as no one policed or governed the World Wide Web (www). In less than twenty years, language barriers have disappeared, which is probably one of the most startling turn of events yet. Think of it—for the first time since the Tower of Babel over 5000 years ago where God confused the language, we have a one-world language—computer language. Like Hebrew and Greek, it has both a character value and a numerical value. This has changed the entire face of the globe.
In 1962, thanks to the activist efforts of one lone woman, Madeleine Murray O’Hare, prayer was officially banned from public school. Studies have shown a sharp decline in morals, law, economics, the judicial system and even the political system since that one event. The generation born in 1948 saw the introduction of rock music, teen rebellion, drugs, free sex, and the rejection of authority figures. We baby-boomers coined the term “generation-gap.” According to my WWII vet Dad, there was no generation gap in his day.
In 1945 President Harry Truman announced a secret weapon, the atomic bomb which began the weapons of mass destruction race. The cold war began which truly formed the catalyst for “wars and rumors of wars” as there were constant rumors of wars during that time. During this time, NATO was formed, the League of Nations was formed, later calling itself the United Nations, a global world government infrastructure, set to monitor peace and prevent war. In December 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as their Charter which closely resembled our own American Bill of Rights, with one exception: The UN does not believe in God—Humanism replaced Him.
The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1948, definitively proving that for the thousands of years during which the Bible was transcribed by hand, not one “jot or tittle” had changed. Today you can view the actual Isaiah 53 Scroll in Jerusalem, hand-written before Christ, which reads nearly word for word as the Isaiah 53 that we read in our Bibles now. Interestingly, this passage on view for the world to see, is the passage of the suffering Messiah who would, by His stripes, heal us. I find that beautifully ironic.
In 1948, George Orwell wrote his famous book 1984 (which was required reading when I was in High School), depicting a society completely monitored and controlled by large TV screens and tracking devices. By 1984, this was eerily coming to pass as it actually did become possible for human tracking and a “big brother” to emerge thanks to the introduction of the personal computers and the Internet. Today, big brother is an actuality—we are watched from every parking lot camera pointing a lifeless, mechanical eye down as we emerge from our cars. With our cell phone technology loaded with GPS, we can be located anywhere. Every picture that we take with our cell phone is loaded with GPS information and when we post it online, those with the know-how can calculate precisely where the picture was taken. In his book, Orwell referred to a new language called “newspeak” which we now call “political correctness.” Like the proverbial frog in the water, we have adapted.
The World Council of Churches was formed in 1948 and the ancient Babylonian religious system re-emerged. The concept of one God, with the Lord Jesus Christ being the “only” way to Heaven, began to be mocked and blasphemed by the media. Forty-five years later, 1993, the first “World Parliament of Religions” convened, with 6000 religious faiths represented. Catholic priests mingled with saffron robed monks; witches mingled with Sikhs, and they formed and signed a Charter of World Religions at that time. The age of ecumenism emerged and those who desired a deeper walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and who believed that Jesus Christ is the only way and the Bible is the only truth, found themselves with a new label “Religious fundamentalists.” This Charter of World Religions coincided incidentally, with the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the PLO, another world paradigm shift.
Before 1948, the Arab nations in the Middle East, and specifically Israel, which had been renamed Palestine by the Roman Empire, were not of much interest to the world. With the rising need for petroleum, the oil-rich Arab nations formed a coalition block called OPEC. Once our world became more and more dependent on these nations for oil, they gained status as super-powers. We can ruminate about the shift of world power from the U.S. and Russia after communism fell, but make no mistake about it—those who have the oil have the power. Who can ignore the phenomena that less than 100 years ago, the long forgotten nations which are referred to in nearly every part of the Bible—Babylon, Persia, Libya, Togarmah, Gog, Magog, Edom, Ishmaelites, Moab, Ammon, Philistia Tyre, Assyria are the nations dominating the headlines today? You don’t recognize these nations? How about Iraq, Iran, Libya, Turkey, the breakaway republics of the former Russia, Jordan, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria? And they surround Jerusalem. And they agree on one thing: Israel—which not coincidentally became a nation at the same time that these nations were rising back to power—must be destroyed. The ancient war had re-ignited—In this last century.
During the time of the Church Age, which is the time of the “harvest,” prophecy seemed to stand still—until 1948. Millions of words have been written about the events of the Holocaust—may we never forget! The Jews had been banished from their ancient land for over 1900 years, from AD 70 until 1948. The term “wandering Jew” was coined as these Jews, without a homeland, were forced to live in “ghettos” (which is where that term originated by the way), in foreign nations, persecuted wherever they went for nearly 2000 years. After WWII and the Holocaust, where one-third of the Jewish population—that is 6 million men, women and children of the world–were slaughtered, they began migrating back to the land of Israel en masse. In every country where they wandered as exiles, their heart cry and prayer was “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Miraculously and against insurmountable odds, the world governing body of the UN declared Israel a nation and the Jews had a home once again in their God-given land. It seemed that God’s prophetic time clock began ticking once more, in 1948.
I mention all of the above in a feeble effort to put some meaning into the monumental changes which have occurred since I was born in 1949; I know I am failing to give voice to the real impact of these things and I’m not certain it is even possible to give voice to it.
My generation, the “baby-boomers” have an attitude. This is why, I suppose. We were the driving force of so many changes in the world during those years and now we are the aging boomers.
The mantle has passed, the world has changed; we are not the movers and shakers any longer. Technology, social media, world powers, are no longer within our control and barely within our grasp, and now the question becomes: Where do we fit in to this new world? Are we still relevant? Because there are so many of us and because of the national health care implosion, we will not be the great generation who brought about so much change; instead we will be the burden to the system. It seemed only yesterday that what Tom Brokaw termed the “Greatest Generation,” those men and women of the war years, my parents, were beginning to enter that aging population and until I was much older, I thought of them as not really relevant in the bigger scheme of things. My heart has dramatically changed about that. Boy, how relevant they were, and my generation who created that generation gap, owes them so much.
Which brings me back to the question, what do I fear?
Insignificance in the world system perhaps, and that is nothing to fear really. My significance is in Christ Jesus. “He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NASB, my paraphrase).
My significance is in Him. He began this work; He will continue to perfect it; He alone gives my life meaning. I am not a “baby boomer;” I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and my identity is in Him. The most oft used command in Scripture is “Fear Not!”
And so I can say confidently to that fearful word insignificance. Take courage, fear not, I do not fear insignificance! Not when the Author and finisher of my faith is the Creator of all of creation and as Corrie ten Boom loved to say “My times are in His hands.” Hallelujah!