Harold and I became good friends about 17 yrs ago. I spent the weekend with him as his sister Helen died, leaving him the last in his family line. Over the course of the years — whenever I went to Minnesota I would try to visit him. I remember sitting in his living room not long after his 93rd birthday! He had been retired for about five years…that’s right, he stopped farming when he was 87. At 93 he was still living in his on home, driving his own car, chasing away his own phone-salesmen! I remember that day talking about change. Can you imagine the change he saw in his lifetime? He was born in 1907.
- – In 1907 Leo Baekeland developed the 1st entirely synthetic plastic, Bakelite. It’s hard for me to imagine growing up in a world without pampers, contacts, frisbees, styrofoam, and fisher price toys.
- – That same year the Azusa Street Revival took place in California giving birth to modern pentecostalism. Today one half billion Pentecostals worldwide outnumber Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Lutherans combined.
- – When he was one, a man named Ford sold the first Model T, automotive.
- – He saw a man named Hitler come into power in 1933. 12 years later, after some 17 million soldiers and 60 million civilians (including 6 million Jews) had died, he watched the Berlin wall go up and come down.
- – Harold saw the birth of rock-n-roll and the discovery of Elvis.
- – He was alive when penicillin was discovered and the first atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima.
- – He went from farming with a team of horses to a four wheel drive John Deere with a ten bottom plow; from Kitty Hawk to the moon; from stories around the fireplace to virtual reality.
- – When he was a teenager, a chip was something you found dried in the cow pasture…hardware was a store and software wasn’t even a word.
- – When he was my age, you could buy a Chevy Coupe for $600 but who could afford one, which was a pity because gas was only 11 cents a gallon.
- – He never knew facebook, txt messaging, or anything that starts with an “i.”
He went through a lot of change. Some of us love change. Some of us hate change. Many of us are somewhere in between.
Alvin Toffler who wrote Future Shock says that when people go through rapid times of change they need islands of stability. Things that do not change. Is there anything like that in your world? My guess is there are probably some things in your life that you thought were unchangeable two or three years ago that have already changed. Is there anything that never, ever changes?
My islands of stability are God-shaped. His love. His calling. His grace. His promises.
My daughter Sarah graduates from Penn State next month. A whole season of changes are coming her way. My prayer for her is that she will find that her God is an island (or a continent) of stability in the midst of a sea of change.