On one of the tours Ray and I took during our trip down south, our tour group included a woman traveling alone, a couple, and a family with their own children and one or two of the children’s cousins, plus Ray and me — the seniors of the group. We were touring a church and, as we sat in the front pews for the conclusion of the tour, our guide asked all of us about our religion. The woman, the couple, and Ray and I each told her the churches we are part of, but the response from the father of the family broke my heart. He told about the denominations that he and his wife grew up in, but said, “I haven’t been to church in a long time.” Then he added, “We are a modern family.”
Ray and I are modern in many ways. We wear (modest) modern clothes and Skype with our grandchildren. We eat lentils and quinoa and drink kombucha and kefir water . . .
. . . a far cry from the white bread, Beanie Weanies, ice milk, and popsicles we grew up on. We use the navigation devices on our phones instead of the folded maps we used to keep in our glove compartment (called the “jackpot” in my family, but the way).
But we are not too modern to worship the Ancient of Days with the church His Son established when He came to earth to die for the sins of the world.
I have a deep passion to help children know about the past, especially the way people in the past have followed God. I want them to know that now is not the only time that has ever existed and that now isn’t necessarily better — or worse — just because it is modern. I want them to learn lessons from the past to help them live in the future on earth and to lead them to the Savior Who wants them to live their eternal futures with Him.
In 2004 our family published the first of our primary source document books to go along with our history curriculum. The book was In Their Words, which accompanied Exploring World History for high school. As we chose the documents for that book, I looked for hymns from different times in world history, because we wanted students to read what people of faith thought and felt about God through the centuries.
As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:
There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
Notice that Solomon said there is “a time to keep and a time to throw away.” “Modern families” need desperately to know what they should keep and what they should throw away — and the courage to hold tightly to what they should keep — at whatever the cost.
Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.