1982: Not So Long Ago

by Tom Wacaster

I was looking for an illustration to make a point. So when I ran a check on my computer it took me to the 1982 Fort Worth Lectureship book, "Difficult Texts Of The Old Testament Explained." One thing led to another and I soon found myself perusing the book and looking at the names and the pictures of the speakers for that series of lectures. Some of those men have long since passed into eternity and their "works do follow them." Winfred Clark, Bobby Duncan, W.T. Hamilton, Guy N. Woods, and J.Noel Merideth, to name but a few, have laid down their swords at the gates of death and are now enjoying their rest. Others still living are now showing their years but remain faithful to their Master: Robert Taylor, Hardeman Nichols, Flavil Nichols, Jerry Moffitt, William Woodson, and Garland Elkins. Sadly there are a couple among those featured speakers who have, for one reason or another, denied their Lord and traded their inheritance for a mess of pottage, perhaps the most notable being Rubel Shelly.

And as I closed that book and contemplated once again the date of that series, I thought: "1982! That was not that long ago." Ronald Regan had been in office less than a year. The country was in a deep depression. I was still living in Ada, Oklahoma and our children were barely teenagers. I had been preaching full time for less than ten years and the turn of the century seemed so far away. No doubt those who have passed the third decade of their life could share personal stories and memories of what all of us would agree was "not so long ago." As you look back, what stands out most clearly in your mind? Is it not that so much of the proverbial water has passed under the bridge? Do you not find yourself asking, if only in your mind, "Where have the past twenty eight years gone?" I think all of us have done just that. Now let’s turn our faces toward the future. Where will we be when another twenty seven years have passed? 2038 is as near in the future as 1982 is in the past. Those who now enjoy the later years of their retirement will, like those faithful men listed above, likely have passed to their reward. Our teens will likely be married and have small children of their own. Parents will be grandparents, and grandparents will be great grandparents. And just as certain as is the sunrise and sunset of today and the swift passing of these past twenty seven years, so will be the coming of the Judgment Day when each one of us will stand before God and give an account of how we have used the short amount of time that God has given us upon this earth.  It will not be long till we bid 2010 good-bye. Nor will it be long, when measured against the backdrop of eternity, till we will bid this world goodbye. The words of the Psalmist press upon our minds with increasing frequency: "For our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten...for it is soon cut off, and we fly away...So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalms 90:9-10, 12). "Seeing that these things are thus all to be...what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy living and godliness...?"