RICHLAND -- I have learned a great deal about the future by walking in the ruins of the past.
Moving through the remnants of a Roman Cardo (a north-south street), staring at artifacts of a once strong and now vanished world reminds me that change is not an option. It is a simple fact of existence.
My grandfather's world has disappeared.
My dad's era is no more.
Time and space march on and my own life experiences, even today, show me that the world I grew up in is now a vanished civilization -- a world that has come to an end in my lifetime.
As R.E.M. used to sing, "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine." This is indeed a wonderful time to be alive. But in order to experience the full flow of life, you must put your face, not your back, to the future; you must look the future square in the eye and see the horizon with the eyes of faith.
I once read a story about a man entering a country store. He made his way across the old porch to the entrance, where a vintage screen door hung silently on rusty hinges. He noticed the long spring, which would pull the door closed once he walked in.
Inside, he stood still for a moment so his eyes could adjust to the dim light. Surveying the space, he saw relics from the past: an old cracker barrel, a large crock of dill pickles and one of those old-time chest coolers, filled with ice water and cold Coca-Cola.
He also saw a sign just in front of him and to the left of the door, which read: "Danger! Beware of Dog!" The man quickly scanned the area until his eyes fell on a harmless old hound asleep near the counter.
"Is that the dog we're supposed to beware of?" he asked.
"Yep," said the old storekeeper.
"Well, he doesn't look dangerous to me," said the man. "Why the sign?"
The old man looked up through bushy eyebrows and said, "Because before I posted that sign, people kept tripping over him."
In many ways, our biggest dangers come not from getting bit by the future, but by not seeing the future clearly-and then tripping over it.
I suggest that following Christ Jesus gives us peace in our past, joy in our present and hope for our future.
The Message Bible is a colorful way to read 1 Peter 1:3, "What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him. ... Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven-and the future starts now!"
* The Rev. Micah Smith is the president of Global Gateway www.globalgatewaynetwork.org with offices in Richland.
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