Made to last
I’ve always found the concept of built-in obsolescence fascinating and disturbing. The idea that a product is designed and manufactured NOT to last beyond a certain period of time. It’s the opposite of sustainability. The opposite of being made to last. So deliberately wasteful.
And yet consumers don’t really want things to last forever. On one level, they like it when a product breaks and that can replace it with a shiny new one. They trade items in for the latest model. Phone contracts build upgrades into their packages. Clothes don’t need to last because we want to follow this season’s trends.
I work in a shop. I know this happens. I see it happening every single day. Consumers buy far more than they could ever possibly need or use. For the thrill of a new purchase, the confidence that a new outfit gives, the feeling of superiority that having the latest and best brings.
And yet there is that fascination with all things vintage too, an admiration for clothes and products that have stood the test of time and were made to last. I love vintage and second hand shops – the sense of story and history in each item. The feeling of being part of a group of individuals going back over decades that have handled that teacup or worn that dress. It grounds us in a story, a tradition.
I have a dress that belonged to my Mum before I was born. It’s blue lace and fits perfectly and fits in with current trends. I wore it for my 50th birthday celebrations last year – because I felt I looked good in it and also as a way of having a sense of having my Mum with me as I celebrated (just as wearing her engagement ring all the time is a constant reminder of her presence in my life).
Yesterday, I was out for a run on the Quayside, surrounded by new developments and delights of modern architecture (visit my friend’s website – Helen Holmes Photography – to be truly inspired by her favourite building, The Sage, Gateshead). As we ran up some steps from the Quayside up to the Swing Bridge, my friend voiced what I was thinking – ‘Imagine how many others have come up these steps before us!’
Because history matters. Being grounded in tradition matters.
That’s what struck me this morning and stopped me in my tracks as I read through several chapters of 2 Chronicles. We’ve moved on from Solomon and are now working our way through the kings of Israel and Judah.
And this is what Abijah, son of Rehoboam, son of Solomon says –
But for the rest of us in Judah, we’re sticking with God. We have not traded him in for the latest model—we’re keeping the tried-and-true priests of Aaron to lead us to God and the Levites to lead us in worship by sacrificing Whole-Burnt-Offerings and aromatic incense to God at the daily morning and evening prayers, setting out fresh holy bread on a clean table, and lighting the lamps on the golden Lampstand every night. We continue doing what God told us to in the way he told us to do it; but you have rid yourselves of him. 2 Chronicles 13:10-11
We have no intention of trading Him in.
We’re trusting in the tried and true priests to lead us to God and lead us in worship.
We’re holding to tradition.
We’re going to continue to do what God has told us to do in the way He has told us to do it.
This certainly doesn’t mean settling into a rut and going meaninglessly through the motions. God is new every single day and is the God of surprises – even with the whole of eternity, we will never have fully experienced all that there is to experience of God.
And it doesn’t mean that we throw out all new teaching and perspectives for fear of rejecting tradition. Our individual faith is growing and developing every single day – we do not think exactly the same now as we did five years ago – we will have never arrived and got it all nailed. The faith journey of God’s people is constantly evolving too – we’re part of this tradition of God’s people that we’re reading about in Chronicles, but we’ve moved on in the journey.
The crucial thing is though, that the God at the centre of the journey, the purpose of the whole journey, is the same God. God has been the same God from the very beginning and will be the same to the very end. He is the constant. He is the tradition that we ground ourselves in. His way has always been best. That will never change.
This assurance is what we can cling on to like an anchor (hope is depicted as an anchor) in the storms of life. An unchanging God in an ever-changing landscape. And yes, our individual relationship with God is changing and developing and evolving every single day, as we get to know and understand this unchanging God more and more.
I don’t know about you, but I need a rock in my life. I feel wobbly and adrift and bewildered and scared and distracted and confused and mesmerised and excited and conflicted……and that’s before I even get out of bed in the morning.
So I intend to stick with the one true God.
I have no intention of trading Him in, because there is no new improved model out there and never will be.
I will continue to learn of God and be led to worship by those grounded in the truth of the one true God.
I will take comfort from being part of a wide and diverse stream of people of faith going back to the beginning of time.
And I will learn to trust that God’s way is best all of the time.