Sing God a brand-new song! Psalm 96:1a (MSG)
"New-ness" is a recurring theme that is floating underneath life's surface these past few weeks:
- I've been thinking about this feeling I have when I see and hear all of the "young people" leading at our church – and realize I already have soul pangs of feeling sidelined and irrelevant.
- I was watching No Direction Home, the Martin Scorcese documentary about Bob Dylan. One artist tearfully shared about the time he listened to Dylan sing back in the 60's and realized that "the torch had been passed" to a new generation. Sadly, I related to him.
- Wendy and I continue a multi-year journey of praying and seeking to have a baby and start a new generation of Vander Wells – right at the moment when Taylor is planning her wedding and Madison is a year away from flying the nest. Some voices tell me I'm crazy to start again with little ones in diapers "at my age."
- My sister mentioned to me last Thursday night that she'd downloaded some old 80's music we used to listen to on our cassette "Walkman" and vinyl LPs when we were younger. I went out to iTunes and checked out some of the music our conversation conjured. Most of it was so hopelessly outdated I couldn't stand to listen to it.
- A friend, who's a young professor at the local college, stopped by yesterday afternoon for an unexpected visit. In the process of normal conversation he shared about an aging, semi-retired professor who was creating all sorts of conflict in the department. "I hope when I'm semi-retired I can just let it go," he said. "I want to let the younger professors take the department and lead it where it needs to go."
[cue music: Bob Dylan's The Times They are a Changin'] I read this morning's psalm and all of these bits of memory surfaced from the archives of the last couple of weeks. A brand new song is a good thing. It's part of God's program. A new generation rising up to lead is a good thing, and inevitable. I can embrace the change and experience all sorts of new-ness and growth for myself and others. I can also ignore the change and become a really frustrated person whose soul wanes right at the point in the road when it's poised to experience some of life's most amazing vistas that, surely, await me over that next hill on the horizon.
A young Bob Dylan sang to the generation before him: "Your old road is rapidly changing. Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand, 'cause the times, they are a changin'."
I look ahead at life's road. I stop and look back at the long path behind me. Dylan was right. There isn't a completely new road. The old one just changed. It's the same road with a stretch of unknown, potentially uncomfortable, territory ahead. I can exit and find a coffee shop to sit and swap "remember whens" with a bunch of others who decided to exit here. Or, I can crank up a new song on my iPod and press on down the road with a new generation to see what God has for me there.
Excuse me a moment while I tie my shoes.