Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Passing the Baton

The young staff  I work with are breaking the glass ceiling of library culture.  Besides changing the rules from finger-against-lip shushing to designating areas for group interaction, this gang is faithfully making coffee for the patrons every weekday.  Taking turns at washing mugs and spoons and filling and emptying the coffee maker, they provide this service with pleasure.

Lunch times become game sites and the library is hosting the first ever game night after hours this Friday night, these young-ins providing snacks, of course.  Never out of energy, another email emerged this week suggesting we welcome back our vacationing director with a pancake breakfast, on Monday morning, everyone chipping in with toppings, electric skillets or whatever suits your fancy.  While those flapjacks are flipping they will sneak into the director's office before he arrives and fill the space with balloons they've blown up at lunch breaks in between the game sessions. A welcome back worthy of milestone birthdays or other crowning events, I say.  I join in the fun, thankful that I'm not counted on for the planning or execution of such energetic proposals.

Maybe I should dub this time of my life as the Passing of the Baton. I used to come up with the crazy ideas for making fun, or volunteer to bring food, hoping to show off amazing culinary feats.  I remember one wise sage advising me to not "burn out" and to take the easy way-- order the food or plan a simpler menu.  I remember feeling disappointed in her attitude.  The result isn't the same.  Why not go for the best?  I found the perfect medium; let the younger ones do the work and enjoy going along for the ride.  :)

Other baton-passing moments come to mind. Like the first family camping trip with grown children and grand kids.  I wasn't the mom in charge!  How nice not to plan the menu; just bring what I was assigned to.  Hubby's and my camping paraphernalia massively shrunk in size as the younger adults took care of skillets and firewood, tablecloths and dishpans.  Grandma got to do the fun stuff--reading picture books out loud, playing games and buying treats at the camp store.

Or the change of leadership at church from a pastor my age to one 30 years younger and the service soon following where most of the Sunday morning leaders were not from my generation and my generation was being encouraged to recruit younger ones to take our place. There was a brief moment of nostalgia and a slight feeling of displacement, followed by relief and a new expectation for what the future might hold.

A family aunt died this week; another empty space, another baton passing...another realization of how a 60 something perspective makes the heart grow fonder for time with family, young and old, and for history discovered that fits more pieces into the puzzle of where I came from and why I am what I am, or in this case, new discoveries about my husband's origins.
We're studying Deuteronomy in my group Bible Study.  Moses is handing over leadership to Joshua and wants to make sure the people of Israel know what to do and how to live in order to stay in God's favor.  Listen and obey is the basic message of the book. There are important things every new generation needs to learn from the one before in order to preserve culture and ensure future success. Even more so, in order for a people to love the one true God, they need to learn his ways and stay faithful in following him. So after Moses pleads with Israel to not forget their God who had done great things for them in the past and to love him with soul, mind and strength so things would go well with them we have these verses recorded in Judges 2:7-13:

The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.
Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance...10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.

No wonder the writer of Hebrews continues to warn God's people of his day and today :
 "We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." Heb. 2:1.  And:  "See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."

Unless, we are keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and loving him as first in our lives, we have the same tendency to drift away from the God who loves us and knows what is best for us.  Unless we teach the younger generation very intentionally what it means to love God and be Christ followers, God's truth and commands will not be valued.

Nancy Reagan died this week. As the news honored her and showed clips from her life, I felt another baton exchange, maybe even heard it being dropped.  How can it not be evident that our culture has forsaken the God who our founders acknowledged and based many of our values on --God's absolute truths?  When politicians get votes in spite of boldly uttering profanities or making light of lying.  When media and entertainment defy a Biblical world view and call evil, good and good, evil.  When people read and watch what God hates without cringing and give it high reviews. When few know who God is or have ever heard any part of his-story.  When God's people keep quiet when they should speak of the hope within them--at the very least, pray diligently for God's mercy and forgiveness. When individual's rights become gods for all to serve... I see the loss and grieve.

But God has always had a people.  Those who stay faithful to him, not perfect, but always seeking to know him better.  The older generation passing on the truths of Scripture to the younger ones.  

"Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deut. 11:19

Whatever generation you identify with right now, you are here for such a time as this. May we each lean not to our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge Him and do our part in furthering God's kingdom here on earth.

 Jude 24-25
24 God is strong and can help you not to fall. He can bring you before his glory without any wrong in you and can give you great joy. 25 He is the only God, the One who saves us. To him be glory, greatness, power, and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord for all time past, now, and forever. 


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