Mom, Dad, I’m Sorry..



My father was born in 1933 just after the giddy height of the 1920’s had worn off and the Great Depression had gripped the United States. By the time of my Dad’s birth, the world economy was in turmoil and 1300 banks in the U.S. had closed. An additional four and one half million people lost their jobs, in a population of 125 million and now more than 30 million Americans had no income. Herbert Hoover had seemed unable to act, and Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, exacerbating an already established global recession. In 1932 F.D.R. arrived with massive bailout plans designed to shore up the economy, and the effect of some of these plans are felt yet today. Overseas, three men were planning to change the face of the political landscape, Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, and Mao Zedong in China.

In the later 1930’s, Chamberlain returned from a summit with Hitler and proclaimed, “..we have peace in our time, peace with honor”; it was neither. As country after country fell in front of the Nazi war machine, America watched and readied herself, sending aid to a Britain struggling against the German aggressor. When my father was eight years of age, the Japanese hit us at Pearl Harbor, dragging a now awakened bear from its den. America was at war.

By 1944, 12 million Americans were in uniform and 19 million more people were back at work, 35 percent of them were women. This nation was immersed in the war, from the front to the back, and they won. This generation knew the intense humility and privation that the Great Depression brought, they lived through the hard work of rebuilding this nation, they saw so many of their friends, so many aspiring scientists, musicians, mathematicians, farmers, that didn’t make it past their very early twenties, who gave their all to this country. Millions of men and women were involved in this fight through poverty and riches, adversity and achievement, and from defeat to triumph. This generation of men and women kept our way of life alive for their children through personal sacrifice. Thank you Mom and Dad, thank you Grandma and Grandpa, and I would like to apologize to you for not learning what I should have so that I could be this strong in my generation. (As an aside, I’d like to apologize to my kids as well, because we are doing the opposite of what our parents did; we are tearing this country down to feed our gluttony and leaving you scraps to rebuild with).

Here’s my question: Where are these men and women today? We are faced with what could be the beginnings of a depression, there are many questions where international violence is concerned, and many domestic programs are in jeopardy. I fear that our parents fought for this country and we inherited it, said, “thank you very much”, and went and sat on the couch.. and stayed there. We took their long-suffering and turned it into a need for immediate gratification, accepted their endurance and twisted it into expectation, and received the benefit of their toil and eroded it until we became apathetic.

I’d like to suggest that there is a Biblical parallel – several actually – to this tale of American success and failure. Let me first state that I will spend little time on the first – and most obvious – parallel which is the story of the Israelites in Judges. Their cycle of faith, backsliding, apostasy, supplication, deliverance, faith.. and so on was due to the fact that they took their eyes off the Lord. While I think this parallel is definitely appropriate here, I don’t want to make it the central issue because if I do, Christian men and women will blame others, and men and women of other faiths will set my suggestions aside as “Christian” and therefore irrelevant. I want all of us to go take a long look in the mirror.

5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” – Haggai 1:5,6

Those who know the backstory for the book of Haggai understand that this warning is much like the first point I promised to spend little time on, but these verses alone are prophetic for us today. Don’t the people Haggai is referring to here sound a lot like modern-day Americans? I’d like to suggest that a major part of our failure to be ‘as great’ as our parents generation is because we are focused so much on ourselves that we have no time to believe that we are part of something greater than ourselves. We want things and time, and we want them for ‘us and ours’ and not for others. This selfishness is one reason there has been a huge backlash in this country against people who desire wealth, and in an unhealthy way. We aren’t holding up people who give to others and keep country traditions alive, instead we reward those who decide not to work with the money we’ve stolen from those who do labor. We reward selfishness and punish labor, and we wonder why we have a country chock full of people unmotivated to work!?

Third, in Judges we see that the beginning of the cycle of backsliding begins with an association with evil, with the people around the Israelites, with intermarriage and taking on their customs. It is difficult to live next to a thing and remain insulated from it; it is impossible to remain unaffected if you marry into it. We are called to be, “ the world, but not of the world”, and we are called to witness to all nations, and we are to remain set apart. Christians often take these commands too far; on one end of the spectrum we have Christians that pray that ‘unbelievers’ won’t move into the vacant house next door and try to keep their family from associating with the ‘unsaved’; on the other end, we have people prone to certain weaknesses going right back into their old lives to ‘witness’ to others they once knew. It is clear that we must come into contact with ‘the world’ to witness, Christ did this and did it regularly, but if He needed rest and regeneration with like-minded people, who are we to think we don’t? This is where a local church becomes so critical. We are to bear one another’s burdens and to build each other up in the faith.. so that we can do the Lord’s work.

So, why is this generation ill-prepared to take on the challenges that faced our parents and grandparents? Because God is no longer the center of our lives, because we are almost wholly selfish, and because we are so caught up with what others are doing that we have failed to chart a course for ourselves (let alone follow it).

What can we do? I suggest that we turn back to the Word. If you are not a Christian today, first, I thank you for reading this far, and second, I urge you to crack open a Bible and read the book of John. It is about 3/4 of the way through the Bible, in the New Testament. Just read the book over the next few days or weeks and see what you think. Email me at to chat. For those who believe, I suggest taking inventory. Find out where your focus is. Is it on the eternal? Do you have a heart for Kingdom building here on earth? Let us all become less selfish and carry out the work of the Lord here on earth. With a renewed focus, God can use us in great ways.. we have at our disposal – for His purposes – the power that raised Christ from the dead!

This entry was posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 7:06 and is filed under Family, Men's Ministry, Virtue. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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