Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

October 19, 2008


Stay in the middle of the road and change will run over you


          Change is the theme of this year’s presidential election. Both candidates promise to change things. Change appeals to everybody because most of us are sick of the way things are. People want change and the politicians know it.

          But no matter which man wins the White House, change is coming. And most of it will not be instigated by the President. Change will simply happen, just as it has since the beginning of time. Life is not static. Relentless change is the very nature of life itself.  

Of course some things never change. People will complain about the government. They always have and they always will. The battle between good and evil will continue. Cain will kill Abel. But the sun will still shine and night will turn to day. Ultimately truth will conquer lies and love will prevail over hatred.

          Though we cry for change most of us are slow to embrace it. We want things to stay the way they have always been. The problem is, things have never always been the way they are at any given time. They are forever changing.

My wife’s mother almost lived in three different centuries. She was born in 1900 and almost lived until the 21st Century. Sarah was 99 when she died. In a lifetime that spanned almost one hundred years, she witnessed a multitude of changes. She never tired of telling us how frightened she was when she saw an automobile for the first time.

Sarah could recall the hard times her family endured as she grew up. Tell her how tough times were now and she would say, "You don’t know what hard times are; my mamma made my dresses out of flour sacks." Sometimes I would tease her and say, "But, Grandma, I thought those were the good old days!" Grinning, she would reply, “You know better!”

Was Grandma happy about the changes that were taking place all around her? No, she was like the rest of us. As she grew older she liked change less and less. But it was like the tide; she could not keep it from coming in.  She recalled a slower pace, when families had time to sit on the front porch and talk. "You are so busy you don’t have time to enjoy life," she often told me. And she was right.

As I have grown older I understand better Sarah’s opposition to change. I resist many of the things that are changing in my life. Television commercials have become impossibly bizarre. My wife and I are constantly saying to each other after watching some weird commercial, “What did that mean?” Neither of us has a clue.

        Sit-coms are usually stupid or trashy, or both. Most movies are little more than garbage. My wife and I used to enjoy going to the movies. Not any more. We look in vain for a movie worth the time and money. Much popular music that is adored by our culture has absolutely no appeal to me. Often when I turn on the car radio, I decide that losing my hearing is not so bad after all.

I know those opinions make me an old fuddy duddy. And I recognize the danger in that for me and all the old codgers like me. If we are not careful we may find ourselves opposed to all change. And that would be tragic, for change is inevitable and much of it is helpful. We cannot, must not, become so comfortable with nay saying that we fail to recognize and embrace changes that are for the common good. That would make us a poor example for the young.

One man lived to the ripe old age of 100. A reporter, covering his birthday celebration, said to the old man, "I guess you have seen lots of changes in your lifetime." The old man replied, "Sure have, Sonny, and I’ve been against every one of them."

All of us who are seniors must guard against the negativity that constantly creeps up on us. A certain old woman illustrates what can happen to us. She had a lovely plaque over the mantle in her home which read, "Prayer Changes Things." One day when she returned home from shopping, the plaque was missing from its familiar spot. "What happened to it?" she asked her husband.

He said, "I took it down."

"Took it down!  But why?  Don’t you believe in prayer?" she asked.

"Oh, yes," he said, "I believe in prayer; it’s change I can’t stand!"

A few hundred years ago there was a great controversy in the church about music. Some fellow wanted to teach people to read music so he came up with the novel idea of putting music notes in the books along with the words. Imagine that!

Naturally some people opposed this new way of singing. Among the objections was this one: "We’ve never done it that way before." And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why that comment has been called "The seven last words of the church."

          Like it or not, change is coming. It always has. It always will. Be careful, then, not to stand in the middle of the road very long because change will run over you. You can like it or you can resist it, but you cannot stop it. Rather than complain, we had better do our best to make the most of it. + + +