If you were going to build a time capsule for people in future generations of your family to dig up one hundred years from today, what would you include? What would you want them to see and hold from this time period that would give them a chance to really understand your life and the culture we live in?
I’d include my first study Bible — the one in which I highlighted verses and wrote quotes in the back from sermons I’d heard over the hears before giving it to my dad after he became a Christian. After his death, it became mine again. It’d be a snapshot of the Warren family at the turn of the century.
Speaking of Bibles, I’d definitely include the family Bible my grandmother used to own and is now in my possession. She jammed family photos inside (with names and dates) and article clippings from her small-town newspaper in Arkansas whenever a family name would appear (the paper once ran a story when her brother accepted the call to preach—can you imagine such an article today?). She also included handwritten lists of birthdays and dates of death going back quite a few years.
I’d also include some old photos of relatives who future generations of Warrens will know nothing about. I’d make sure to include a bio about each of them so future generations would understand what their ancestors believed and the sacrifices they made.
I’d toss in a few of the most important letters I’ve exchanged with relatives over the years—the ones that felt like defining moments in our family’s history.
It might sound a little self-serving, but I’d include a copy of my book, Higher Grounds: When God Steps Into the Here and Now, because it includes stories about my family’s spiritual history. I wrote it because I wanted to make sure those stories didn’t get lost.
My grandmother had some recipe cards that deserve to be included. She made the best apple cake in the world and her mush was second to none too — although, I can’t say I’ve ever tasted anybody else’s mush. But it was a connection to her southern routes that future generations might love to resurrect.
I have a large collection of autographed books. I’d pick a couple and include them. Maybe my autographed copies of R. C. Sproul’s Scripture Alone and A Taste of Heaven.
How could I leave out my high school yearbooks from 1982-84, complete with their pictures of our short shorts and feathered hair that was parted down the middle for the guys or Farrah Fawcett-styled hair for the girls? And I’d love for future generations to know that Pepsi (not Coke!) was our beverage of choice in 1984.
I can see that I’d need a rather large time capsule, but nobody said anything about a size limit. So, let’s keep filling it.
It’d be fun to include a piece of technology—like an iPhone I’m no longer using. I’m thinking I could include a charger and then make sure there’s no passcode on the phone. Then maybe I’d leave a letter to let people know that I left a few videos of myself on the device explaining what life is like now and how I prayed for them, even though I didn’t even know their names.
Oh, and how about including a Keurig without any instructions to see if they could figure out what it is? That’d be fun.
I’d slip in my one remaining bottle of Drakkar cologne from the 1980s because it’ll be due to make a comeback by then.
Since Twinkies nearly went extinct a few years ago, how could I not buy a box and put it into the time capsule with a post-in note asking if the Twinkies did indeed stay fresh forever, as the old legend says?
How about you? What would you put into your time capsule?
While I was out driving one day recently, I saw a sign that said, “Be a fountain. Not a drain.” After I got home, I looked it up and found that it can be attributed to former baseball player and current broadcaster Rex Hudler.
“Fountain” and “drain” stuck with me.
One of the definitions of “fountain” is “a natural flow of ground water.” The word “fountain” is derived from the Latin word fons and it means “source.” Fountains can be described “as the flowing of pressurized water up and out through an aperture from some hidden depth below the earth's surface.”
I don’t want to get overly technical here, mostly because I’m unable to really understand it all, but for a person to be a fountain, he or she needs to be tapped into the source, which allows him or her to overflow from beneath the surface — providing refreshment to those who need it.
A drain, on the other hand, means “deplete of resources.” For a person to be a drain, he or she mostly takes from others, leaving those they are taking from depleted.
I don’t think Hudler was suggesting that there’s never a time to be a drain. If that were the case, nobody would ever seek help or solace in time of need. Instead, I think he was talking about living with intent. Being a fountain should be the natural state for the believer. But during trying times, allowing someone else to be a fountain for a time is a good thing.
For the Christian to be a fountain, we need to be drawing from Jesus, who said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The last few weeks have been unique for all of us as the world attempts to rid itself of COVID-19. Rest in Psalm 91 this weekend and in the weeks to come, paying special attention to the way God describes himself to those who call on his name:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place--
the Most High, who is my refuge--
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Notice that God is our:
- buckler (armor that is placed on the arm to intercept blows)
- dwelling place
When you feel overwhelmed by the news, pull out this psalm and dwell on these 15 aspects of God’s character. He is faithful, no matter the circumstance.
“I buy a hundred stamps at a time because it reminds me to make cards and letters a priority,” said a friend named Tom recently over lunch.
I’d been lamenting the fact that my own card and letter writing had dropped off in recent months. Tom always inspires me to keep the main thing the main thing — and relationships, both with God and others, are his priority.
“People love getting personal mail,” Tom continued.
I knew he was right. I didn’t run to the post office to buy a hundred stamps — at least not yet, but I did handwrite two cards and mail them. One was to a client, and the other was to someone who lost her husband to cancer recently.
As someone who has been downsizing for years, including print books in favor of e-books, I don’t downsize the cards and letters I’ve received over the years. They are touchstones to the past and I feel too connected to get rid of them.
Emily Dickinson once said, “A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.”
It’s not only the mind of a person but it’s also his or her heart. We’re extremely vulnerable in handwritten correspondence — far more so than in electronic correspondence, even though I prefer the more technological tools we have available today.
How are you doing with sending cards and letters? Has your production dropped off in recent years? Is it time to get back after it?
“Who are you when everything’s been stripped away? When everything you’ve relied on to have a sense of life or purpose or meaning is gone?”
Those are the questions that David McIntyre, a former missionary, asked when he was a contestant on History Channel’s “ALONE” television program — a show that followed ten participants who were spread across the wilderness of Vancouver Island during the season he was on the program to see who could survive the longest. Contestants were completely isolated, even recording their own thoughts on video.
Such isolation causes deep introspection about the lives they are living, the decisions they have made, and what really matters to them — as was the case when David asked the probing question about who you are when everything’s been stripped away.
As I thought about his question, I considered my writing. It helps me to make sense of the world, but it’s not my ultimate purpose. And I thought about the number of times I’ve been a caregiver. Those stages of my life have always made me feel like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and they brought unexpected, sweet blessings. But again, caregiving isn’t who I am. It’s just something I have done. If I were plucked from my home this afternoon and dropped into the wilderness, I wouldn’t be doing either one.
At my very essence, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. Strip everything away, and that’s who I am. I limp along behind him, knowing he defines me, empowers me, and ultimately loves me. He feels the same way about you.
Consider David’s questions this weekend. Who are you when everything’s been stripped away? When everything you’ve relied on to have a sense of life or purpose or meaning is gone?