Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hope v Fear

When I was very young, I grew up with the distinct understanding that nuclear war was a possibility at any time. It was the late fifties, early sixties-- homes had bomb shelters; we were all notified where to find the nearest fallout shelter; the Emergency Broadcasting System was born; we were ordered under penalty of death by our parents not to eat the snow. I’m guessing now it was because of nuclear testing and radiation in the atmosphere. There was a distinct climate of fear and an understanding that the world as we knew it could suddenly go haywire.

By the mid-sixties the international political climate had changed. America began to relax and enjoy the era of prosperity and relative peace. Personally, I grew to love and dream about the future. I read every science fiction book in the science fiction section of our local library. My favorite author was Andre Norton. I found out many years later she was a woman, and I found out today she just died last year at age 93. I was wacky about space exploration and UFO’s. When the Star Trek television show premiered, I was there at the television set every Thursday night watching with my best friend Carol, and I actually didn’t see anything strange about gogo boots and miniskirts being part of the uniform of the future. I couldn’t get enough of the possibilities of space and beyond.

In Junior High I read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and came to realize that the future might end up worse, not better, than the present. That was a bit disconcerting. In high school I saw the movie Soylent Green — that’s a lot of bad news in 2022! The Vietnam War, political upheaval, a more adult perspective on life in general, etc., made the future take on a distinctly threatening quality, and I started to feel, and it was a common perspective of my generation, that it was very important to live in the present, and to live every moment with gusto. Who knew what was around the corner? The fear I had felt in my childhood about life returned, and it propelled me into a sort of distorted frenzy for experiences. It wasn’t the only reason I made bad decisions at that time in my life, but it was certainly there—that lack of trust for things to turn out, so why not do what felt good or seemed fun right then?

Thirty plus years later I can only marvel at God’s intervention in my life. In 1980, He picked me up out of the muck and mire and set me on the Rock! I don’t live a day without hope and the "peace that passes all understanding" is mine whenever the world seems hopeless and frightening. When I start to pine for days of youthfulness, or nostalgically reminisce on the “good old days,” I remind myself that in so many ways, those were the days of fear—days to which I should never desire to return. “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way [of the Lord].” Psalm 23.17 – 19 Amplified Bible


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