Remember record albums? I miss them. Not because I’m the guy who always thinks old stuff is better, but because when the music, the cover art and the liner notes all worked together, the music-lover was set up for something special and memorable.
Last April the remaining 250 or so records in my collection were destroyed in a tornado. Dating back to the mid-1960s, the vinyl and paper remains are now interred in four cardboard boxes, warped, mildewed and water-stained. Though ruined, I can’t bring myself to throw them away, though I own most of the music in digital form. Why? Because those albums are more than the music they contain. Like cherished family photos, each speaks of times, places and friends that don’t seem nearly as long ago and far away as they actually are. The deteriorated condition of the old albums reminds me of the obvious: I’m getting older too.
While the Byrds recorded the 1965 classic version titled “Turn, Turn, Turn” (I had the album, of course.), Solomon said it first in Ecclesiastes 3:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted …
Here’s a test: What was your great, great grandmother’s maiden name? See? Just three generations ago, and many of you have no idea. How soon we are forgotten, even by our own families.
These days, I regularly ask myself what’s the best way I can spend the next 20 or so years, should God allow? More relevant, how am I going to spend today?
In Chapter 12, Solomon answers that question in his summation of Ecclesiastes:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
In “A Life Well Lived,” a DVD teaching series on Ecclesiastes (highly recommended), Pastor Tommy Nelson, unpacks Solomon’s summary with five admonitions that would make a good exit plan for Christians of my vintage:
• Know God and obey Him. This will require spending time in the book in which God tells us about Himself, the Bible.
• Don’t assume that because you know God, bad things will not happen to you.
• When trials come (and they will), rest in God. Nurture an intelligent faith in the God who loves you and is working His will for your good and His glory.
• As you rest in God, hold the course – that is, obey God because He is worthy, not because of the perks of being a Christian. The safest place to be is a place of good conscience in the will of God.
• Live boldly and die well.
• As you learn, rest and hold the course – enjoy. Enjoy God and the blessings He gives in this life including family, friends, good music, good movies, good books and all the rest of His creation.
That only leaves one question: what am I going to do with all those old albums?