Writings by Cole Huffman

Twenty Years Capsule

Twenty years ago, the dawn of a new century was only a couple of months away. Were you stockpiling goods due to Y2K fears? Software developers rushed to fix the “Millennium Bug,” staving off the chaos that would have ensued if computerized banking and defense systems collapsed.

Only Jonathan Cahn would find anything useful now in the Y2K books of old. Cahn’s hermeneutics—called eisegesis, reading into the text—was in play around Y2K. I remember Joseph’s grain silos turned into a biblical prescriptive to buy baked beans in bulk. People were trying to be prudent, taking precautions, and it’s hard to fault them that. But computers not only didn’t hiccup, they triumphed, and we would never doubt technology again. We invited it into our hearts.

Twenty years is about the span of a generation. An odometer of sorts turns over and we reflect on how far we’ve come. In 1999, we were speeding toward a cultural horizon that wasn’t fixed but flat. That means the prevailing sense was we would make of the world ahead whatever we wanted. Everyone could have his or her own truth.

The Emergent Church was on the horizon back then. I’ve heard postmodernism described as more of a mood than a philosophy. The Emergent “conversation,” as it referred to itself, was more vibe than vision. Some were promoting church renewal for a new century, and that’s good, but while every generation sees something those immediately before them miss or undervalue, many party to the Emergent conversation made their moment and methodologies absolute. The sand still drained through that hourglass.

Y2K preppers and Emergent conversationalists had a common ring to them: the ring of the apocalyptic (from the Greek apokalypsis, “destruction”). As Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson write in their book, How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World, apocalypse reveals more than predicts. “Apocalyptic literature has always said a great deal more about who we are now . . . than who we might be in the future.”

In the rearview mirror, what will the now look like twenty years on from here? I hope I’m not Kenny Rogers about it. He had a hit song in the 80s called “Twenty Years Ago.” He took his nostalgia out for a walk around his old hometown. More wins than losses, as memory serves him, so he longs to go back and relive those good times past. He even says life was “so much easier” twenty years ago.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I like the song. Kenny’s voice is strong and the melody stirs. The sentiment, however, is weak. Amnesia is worse than nostalgia, but good memories are to be enjoyed for what they were, not held over the present to diminish it by comparison.

Twenty years ago, I turned 30. Life wasn’t exactly easier. I knew less about suffering back then than I do now. Twenty years from now, I’ll be 70. Not an embittered 70, I hope, due to a few sufferings endured, my own and others. I want to still be running the race, running with the horses, not the ostriches, still fully present people of God.

Every twenty years or so many of us need the reminder that going forward isn’t always everything it’s envisioned to be, and neither is going back. The great constant is my life is hidden with Christ in God—Paul put it that way to the Colossians—and this is all I really know to count on. If that truth doesn’t get into us and set, we too easily get worked up about things the future may judge much ado about nothing.

Outside the hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where my dad was treated before dying earlier this year, I noticed a marker near the entrance for a time capsule buried underneath (in 2015). Inside it are some things it is expected the medical practitioners of tomorrow will likely not use, like paper charts and radiology film. It’s hoped some things won’t change, like the hospital’s mission statement, included in the capsule with current staff signatures.

A time capsule from 1999 containing a Y2K Survival Kit would get some laughs, no doubt. I still have books by Emergent authors on my shelves—the ones who insisted we needed a new kind of Christianity, or that my church must change or die—but I don’t crack them anymore. I know Jesus will make all things new in His time. The end doesn’t come until He says it’s here.

Oh! Teach us to live well!
            Teach us to live wisely and well!
            Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
            and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
            Surprise us with love at daybreak;
            then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
            Make up for the bad times with some good times;
            we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
            Let your servants see what you’re best at—
            the ways you rule and bless your children.
            And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
            confirming the work that we do.
            Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!
(Psalm 90:12–17, MSG)

Posted by Cole Huffman at 2:20 PM
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