When I was a child, my father’s farm in the Panhandle of Texas was directly under the migration path of the Canadian geese.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Twice a year we were blessed to watch the wild geese fly overhead, sometimes changing formation and sometimes dipping down for food or to leave a sick or injured bird. Daddy used to deliberately leave some grain in the fields so they would be able to count on a feast at least one day of their long journey. In our South field he planted maize, a kind of grain that shells out like little brown BBs. More than once an injured bird would spend a whole season with us waiting for the flock to come again and take them away.
Remembering all this brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I can’t express how much I appreciated those magnificent birds.
The goose “honking” speaks to me. It makes me think of a simpler, cleaner time, when you could listen to JUST geese, and not geese cum helicopters, street sounds, and electronics. In my mind, that was when evil seemed far away, and the incessant wind carried the perfume of clean dirt and rain, when hard work was wholesome, food without frills, and sleep was sound without sound machines. Sometimes the clear calls of coyotes as the freight train passed our country road woke us, but we knew we were safe inside our homes. It was a time when we not only had space in our lives to think, but God Himself was not an afterthought. Folks could still blush. We knew right from wrong. True privacy still existed. School officials weren’t obligated to organize “Compassion Day” at our elementary schools to teach decent character traits. Parents were still really parents, and children learned the meaning of authority, respect, and true dignity.
Not only that, but I remember when appliances weren’t outright bossy! In that other existence, we could still choose whether to lock our own car doors or not. There was no domineering electronic voice demanding, “Turn left now. TURN LEFT! … Make a U-turn. Recalculating…” Because phones still had cords it meant that they didn’t have a stranglehold on us. When they still taught “the Three R’s” in school, we used to be able to read our own map and even write in cursive!
That was a time when people cared about people, not so much about stuff, and neighbors were actually neighbors instead of merely parallel co-existences. A kind-hearted person could stop to help a stranded motorist without necessarily risking life and limb. Communication was more than a sterile 3-second text, and folks might actually take you up on a spur-of-the-moment Sunday dinner invitation. It was a time of hand-written letters and licked stamps. We talked face-to-face with each other, instead of into Facebook’s Town Square Loudspeaker. We quoted the Bible with impunity… And Google wasn’t God to the masses.
There is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Cycles of life and history seem as repetitive as the circuits of the wind.
“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us” (Ecc. 1:4-10).
Just looking at it all this change for the worse, the world over seems terribly tragic. Yet recently, a rather radical thought has been nagging at me, working on my perspective: If we think about it, maybe, just maybe living in such a time as this is actually a Priceless Gift to every Christian. Were the world always beautiful, friendly, gentle, and fresh, would it not be all the more difficult not to love it and want to stay? Conversely, if we are blessed to see its problems, we can more easily live by faith and be saved by hope; we can begin to really (not just nominally) look for something better to come.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38).
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25).
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).
Could this be the reason for God’s telling us in Ecclesiastes 7:10, “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16).