Sometimes I wonder if I’m growing either wiser or crankier as I get older. Aging can make people bitter and unhappy. They arm themselves with an attitude of entitlement. Their years of wisdom have earned for them the right to be antagonistic, demanding, self-driven and just downright mean spirited.
Confession time. Half ashamedly I admit to saying to my daughters when they were growing up, “Wait until your father gets home.” I’m probably not the only one though, am I?
The Eagles recorded this song in 1975. It was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, two members of the group at that time. It is reported that Henley and Frey concocted this story after witnessing what they perceived as a rendezvous between a man and a woman at an LA bar they frequented. They observed the meeting, watched the interaction between the two, and made up this song. It is the product of their vivid imaginations.
Some of you may remember this phrase, "Try It, You'll Like It, from a television commercial that aired in the early 70s. It was for a product called Alka Seltzer that was first marketed around 1931. Aka Seltzer is a remedy for upset stomachs and a favorite 'go to' for those who tend to overindulge in food and drink. Apparently, people were overlooking Alka Seltzer and the commercial was urging them to try it and they would like it...and hopefully use it again and again.
One of my all-time favorite songs is "Only You" by the Platters. The lyrics start out: Only you can make this world seem right; Only you can make the the darkness bright..." I've realized that I've grown to think of God this way. He is the only one that gives meaning to my life. He is the only one who works all things for good in my life. He is the only source of lasting peace that passes all human understanding. One God. One and only God. One True God. End of Discussion. Period.
But I've tried it the other way and I liked it. It's easy to push God aside and opt for a lazy Sunday morning at home rather than attend worship. I can find things to do that eat up my time rather then spend it with Him in the study of His Word and prayer. Why does neglecting God come so easy?
John makes a solid declaration about the only true God. I am comforted by his use of the word 'only' in Chapter 17, verse 3. In a world where absolutes are being chipped away in favor of political correctness and a risk of hurting someone's feelings, the only true God, and Jesus Christ stand beacons -- absolutes in an absolute-less world.
I am pretty sure that you've tried it and liked it, too. That is putting 'other things' before God. Job? Money? Hobbies? Athletes? Movie stars? This 'setting aside' is prevalent in our lives of faith. But it's also a by-product of the sin sick and dying world that we live in. A world that encourages self-indulgence and putting "me" first because I believe I deserve it.
The song lyrics ring hauntingly true. It almost addresses God in a psalm-like setting. O Lord, only you, my God and my King make things right in this world..." We should fear, love and trust God above all things. There are times doing so is easy peasy, other times I fail. The one thing that is needed is to take steps to put my faith in action. Take to heart the words of John that we worship "the only true God." Then, make Him first in your life. Him. Only Him. Try it, you'll like it.
"Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." -John 17:2
These lyrics are probably not the most familiar from the song, "Strawberry Fields" by The Beatles. The rallying cry, "Strawberry fields forever!" is probably more popular and memorable. When I hear them, images of the Civil Rights Movement, Women's Rights Movement or the Vietnam anti-war protests come to top of mind. Then my thoughts turn to more joyous times when a drinking glass is hoisted and the toast is accompanied by shouts: Ein Prosit! L'Chaim!
The line of Strawberry Fields, "Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, Misunderstanding All You See" is the one that caught my attention. In fact, it nags at me constantly. It's like the words are my spare tire, following me around in the trunk of my car everywhere I go. To be honest, that's one spare tire I wish were flat as a pancake. They convict me. Intensely and profoundly. But what do I do? I just slam the trunk, get back into the driver's seat and walk away.
Why must they haunt me so? The Eighth Commandment. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor. Now, I doubt that John Lennon had the 8th Commandment in mind when he wrote this song. In fact, I know he didn't. Lennon lived in an area of Liverpool, England where there was a Salvation Army children's home. You guessed it. The name of the home was Strawberry Field. Lennon was pining for his hometown and inspired to write this song that was released in 1967.
In Martin Luther's explanation to this commandment he states that we are not to speak ill of our neighbor but speak well of him and "put the best construction on everything." That's why these words pierce my heart. More often than not, I don't put the best construction on people's words and/or actions. It's a lot easier to live with eyes closed to the truth. It's a lot easier to put your own explanation or judgment on what others are doing or saying. Most of the time, when your eyes are opened by the truth, it turns out to be not even remotely related to the explanation you conjured up erroneously.
Let's face it, it's much more fun -- and satisfying to our sinful nature -- to reveal the sinful condition of others than it is to improve their life. Revenge is often the motive to undermine someone's reputation by airing faults. We're hurt and we want to see them hurt, too. They hurt me -- I'll get back at them. I'll gossip. I'll spread some rumors. I'll lie about what I saw. I'll betray a confidence.
In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Light." What a powerful statement. Jesus is telling us he is our destiny and our search for meaning. He is the answer to that infernal question: What is truth? The Son is the Sun that illuminates the world and enables our hearts and eyes to see.
Lennon's proclamation was profound, perhaps serendipitously. Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. Doing so enables you to live out your sinful nature and put YOUR construction on everything you see. Nine times out of ten, it's not the BEST construction. I'd like to change the words around a bit: Living is difficult with eyes open, understanding all you see. That's the challenge we face everyday.
A famous movie line from "A Few Good Men" comes to mind. Jack Nicholson screams, "You can't handle the truth." Yes, we can Jack. It just takes the eyes of Christ and the mind of Christ and the heart of Christ to do that. What a marvelous gift we have received from God. To walk by faith and have His love be the lens through which we can learn to put the best construction on everything. -Soli Deo Gloria
For a host of reasons, the year 1969 sticks out in my memory like a sore thumb. I was in my sophomore year at Washington Township High School in South Jersey. When school was over for the year, my parents and I drove to Florida in a brand new 1969 Pontiac Catalina. It was dark brown and come to think of it, probably qualified as a bona fide gas guzzler. (Very roomy, though.)
The trip to Miami Beach was not eventful. I remember one of the highlights of the entire excursion being the young lifeguard at the hotel pool with the chiseled looks and bronze suntan. That was when it was cool to bake out in the sun. If my memory serves me correctly, I refused to apply sunscreen ("sauce" as my husband calls it), opting for Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil. For the first few days, I suffered immensely from a blistering sunburn. The thought never crossed my mind that basking and baking in the hot Florida sun was a major no-no. Just the opposite. A deep, dark tan was almost a badge of honor. I'm paying for that now.
Also during that summer were the teen dances at Bell's Lake. You see, classmates and neighborhood friends would gather on Friday nights in the clubhouse. Ogling boys on one side, giggling girls on the other. The music would be appropriately blasting and reverberate across the lake to the homes on the other side. That's the year Sly and The Family Stone sang "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and those summer months certainly fit that bill. I'll leave it at that.
It was also the year of infamous bubble gum music -- Sugar, Sugar by The Archies and Dizzy by Tommy Roe. Topping the chart at number two that year was Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In by The Fifth Dimension. Lately I've been thinking that the cosmic forces were summoned with that song and how things haven't been the same since. Mysticism and eastern spirituality were all the rage. These trends were captured in the essence of that song and its ramifications reverberated well into the future. And although Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles was released two years earlier, it remained on the charts long enough to reflect the "far out" attitudes that prevailed during that era.
The event that has piqued my interest lately is Woodstock. To be honest, I really didn't pay too much attention to it at the time. I felt so far removed from what was happening on Max Yasgur's farm as a high school student in rural South Jersey. I remember seeing images of people huddled together under blankets trying to protect themselves from the deluge of rain. In retrospect, the longstanding effect it's had on society seems more relevant to me. And although I never considered myself a hippie back then, it seems that those characteristics are slowly beginning to emerge. Talk about a late bloomer!
Over thirty famous and soon-to-be-famous music groups and solo artists performed there. It was non-stop, R&B, rock and roll, ballads and folk music. It's the folk music that seemed to particularly convey the pulse of a generation that protested war, promoted peace, held love-in's, sit-in's and Laugh-In's.
This Woodstock generation had a profound effect on the quest for world peace and harmony. It was the generation that reminded everyone to take care of the environment and question authority. The generation that carried a social message in its music that still lives on in the musical kaleidoscope of my mind.