I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:16-21).
As I went to put cream in my coffee, I glanced down at the USA Today. The headline read, “US $62 trillion in debt”.
The magnitude of this is too difficult for me to grasp. I mean, who can imagine this amount of money?
It seems indeed that the economy is in big trouble. Another headline reads “Chronic Unemployment Worse Than Great Depression”.
A lot of people don’t have jobs. What the headline above means is that the longer one is out of work, the more difficult it is for them to find a job because employers are wary of gaps in their resume.
My wife and I were recently discussing the economic situation in Europe, where she is from and where we have lived. We talked about Greece, a country where one of our relatives is from.
This nation is bankrupt. It appears more European countries may follow in its footsteps.
As I said, this is all hard to fathom. Furthermore, the economy is just one aspect of the world that is undergoing great earthquakes.
In the 1960s, a period of great social change, Bob Dylan wrote and sang a song about dynamic change. It begins this way:
“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.”
Dylan says in this poem, “Do something!” The inference is that if the people of his time didn’t take action, they we’re going to drown.
What is curious about his poem is that even Dylan didn’t quite understand the events of his times. When asked by a friend,who picked up a draft of it, “What is this (expletive deleted) man?”, Dylan replied, “Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear.” Even with rockers and folk musicians, it’s all about marketing.
Dylan opened a concert the night after President Kennedy was assassinated with “The Times They Are A’ Changin’ . He thought people would throw rocks at him, but instead they applauded.
Dylan said,”I know I had no understanding of anything. Something had just gone haywire in the country and they were applauding the song. And I couldn’t understand why they were clapping, or why I wrote the song.”
“I couldn’t understand anything. For me, it was just insane.”
Dylan knew something was wrong in the world. He just couldn’t put his finger on it mentall. Dylan said of his song, “I didn’t mean ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ as a statement… It’s a feeling.”
When I read the headlines these days, I could say the same thing regarding them that Dylan did about “The Times They Are A’ Changin'”. I just get this feeling of immensity, of events beyond my capacity to handle after I come away from a newspaper or a webzine.
One lyric from Bob Dylan’s song seems to refer to the generation gap which characterized in the ’60s.
“Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.”
Dylan, however, says of this lyic:”Those were the only words I could find to separate aliveness from deadness. It had nothing to do with age.”
For Dylan, the parents and everyone else for that matter should in the 1960s should have obeyed the old adage: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” This is rather prof0und considering Dylan himself didn’t know where he was going.
In summary, Dylan didn’t quite get what was happening around him in the world when he wrote “The Times They Are A’Changin’. He just “had a bad feeling about this”.
He just knew that people couldn’t just stand around and be swallowed up by unstable happenings around them. They needed to DO something, anything. They had to be “alive” to their times and not have their heads in the sand.
When I think of the craziness today, I have the same feelings that Dylan did in the ’60s. I want to stand up and shout, “Somebody stop the madness and DO SOMETHING!”.
Thus, philosophically, Bob Dylan and I are great postmodernists. Michael Ramsden said in this talk that the normal modus operandi in this postmodern age is either “knowing, feeling or doing.”
Consequently, it seems to me that when postmodernists like Dylan or myself can’t make sense out of the world through our intellects, emotions and wills, we are in big trouble. The postmodernist has no place to go for answers after those aspects of our humanity are exhausted.
Ramsden said that, for believers, however, that the postmodernist approach is wrong. Our point of concentration as believers, he says, should be “being”.
This is exemplified in a negative fashion in the life of Saul in the Scriptures During tumultous times God listened to the ancient Israelites pleadings and gave them a king. He chose Saul.
Saul was anointed to be king by the prophet Samuel. Samuel told Saul:
“The Spirit of the LORD will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. (I Samuel 10:6-9)
God gave Saul a task, a big one. But before He sent him out to do that job, God changed Saul’ s heart and put His Spirit upon him.
Being a different person, one led by God’s Holy Spirit, was the only way Saul could live up to the job ahead as King of Israel, God’s people. Unfortunately, Saul disobeyed God’s Word offered through Samuel.
He acted when he should have waited, went with his feelings, and took on a role God did not assign to him. As a result, Saul aborted God’s work in his life. God took Saul’s task away from him because he focused on doing something instead of being someone (I Samuel 13:1-13).
“To be, or not to be, that is the question”, wrote Shakespeare. This is the opening line to his play Hamlet.
Hamlet is deciding in this play to be alive or dead. Will he kill himself or not? That is the question.
In his songwriting Dylan stumbled onto some truth. Our path in this world is getting old and getting us nowhere. Will we choose to be alive or dead as we make our way in it?
At creation, God breathed His life into us. We were meant to be human “beings”, personages with His life in us, not inanimate, dead objects (Genesis 2:7, Psalm 139:13,14).
We lost the breath of life when Adam and Eve sinned. However, when Christ comes into the believer’s heart, His life is breathed back into our dead persons. t is in God that we “live, and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)”.
As believers, we aren’t called to understand the craziness of this world. God calls us instead to grasp His deep love in the midst of it.
Further, God doesn’t ask us to react with our messed up emotions. When we respond in emotionally, it should be in gratefulness, amazement and joy at His wondrous love.
Finally, God doesn’t require that I do anything in this mad planet. He justs wants to powerfully act THROUGH me to enact His loving will in the mania.
There’s very little I can in and of and by myself anyway. Only God can deal with the ginormous problems of our time anyway, and He will do so out of love.
The times are definitely changing. So should I.
I can be a different person, one alive to Jesus and His love. Only then can I help out in this state of utter confusion we are in today.