Herb Kane (Hawaiian, 1928-2011)
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I sometimes hear remarks concerning the past and its disadvantages.
While there is a Biblical warning not to glorify the former days as though they were better, (Isaiah 43:18 and Ecclesiastes 7:10), it was never intended that the values of the past, or that history, would be despised or dismissed. There are many admonitions from God's Word to walk in "the old paths, where is the good walk," (Jeremiah 6:16) and to honor traditions (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Daydream by Herb Kane (Hawaiian, 1928-2011)
I love the paintings of the water-carriers and shepherdesses of by-gone days, yet I think that running water is far better, and automobiles are a better form of transportation. What I am addressing here is not the old days, but the old ways and the old paths, which can still be traveled today.
It is adventurous and admirable to blaze a trail of your own in some things, but the well worn path of virtue and values is important to follow. The old paths, which lead to the good way, which bring spiritual and emotional stability and well-being, are the paths every generation in every era of time needs to seek.
Moderns who love the things of times past, such as the automobiles, furnishings and styles, also need to embrace beliefs and values that are good and true. Courtesy (1 Peter 3:8), careful conversation, (Ephesians 4:22; Hebrews 13:5), and contentment (1 Timothy 6:6; Philippians 4:11) are just a few of those things, as well as faith and fortitude. Other valuable things are loyalty, dependability, dedication and simple belief in God's Word.
The old ways, (the old paths), based upon the inspired Word of God, are to be desired above all other types of progress. The "old paths" described in Jeremiah 6:16, is where you will find the key to happiness and success in life. While there have been people in each century who were always wanting to hear some new thing (Acts 17:21) , the old ways, where the good walk is, are tested and proven by the faithful followers of God in the past. Because of the examples recorded in the scriptures of people who grew in wisdom and were obedient to God, we can easily see what paths to follow.
And so, the old days, while they may have been filled with the old ways, are not exactly what we are seeking these days. While we honor the past and celebrate its glory with anniversaries, memorials, jubilees, and other markers, we are not actually living in the past, but appreciating it. We realize that when we follow the old paths, we will get the kind of results that other people got when they followed these values. There are customs from past times that we admire which were there because someone followed the old paths, back then, as well. Many of us desire the quality and craftsmanship of the houses and clothing of the old days. Others admire the slower, more deliberate pace of life in past times. There is nothing wrong with reproducing the good things of the past or practicing the traditions of the past that have good values. These things are part of the good walk.
When you see someone wearing a different style than that of the prevailing culture, do not quickly conclude that the person is glorifying the past or thinking that the former times were better. They are probably just enjoying the finer things from another era, to make life pleasant in this era. God designed life so that we could learn from the past. In the area of clothing and fashion, we are the most blessed of any generation before us, for we have many centuries of designs to study and choose from.
We should not be limited to just the fashion of the day, dictated by designers and their particular tastes. When I wore my Victorian costume and rode my tricycle in an old-fashioned parade, there were several people curious to know if I lived completely in the past, or dressed that way every day. While I wear costumes that are more authentic in design when I participate in special events, the designs of the past influence the way I sew clothing for every day wear in these current times. I like the feminine look of the Victorian clothing, and I add touches of that style to modern sewing patterns.
There are other things that people admire about the past. The way people spent their leisure time with their families, the things they made by hand, the habits they had, plus the way they handled life's ups and downs; these all have something to teach us today, for they are some of the old paths that God speaks of. Jeremiah 6:16 says that following the old paths, you'll have peace.
It is only natural to see the things of the past that bring serenity and peace to our lives, and there is also nothing wrong with rejecting modern values that bring an uproar into our lives. We are all free to choose which values we will embrace. Therefore, if it appears that someone is a little old fashioned, or "living in the past," it could be that they are only adopting something from the past that gives them truth, direction and peace. The law of the Lord, itself is rooted in the past, and so to obey the teachings of our Lord is to follow the old paths, where the good walk is.
The paintings by Herb Kane which appear at the beginning of this post, are an illustration of the old ways. The painter lived in modern times, yet recorded some good customs of the past in his paintings. The scenes in those two paintings illustrate an old Hawaiian tradition that is still practiced today. While these paintings depict things that were in the past, they speak of good traditions and customs which can easily be imitated today--the old paths. There is certainly nothing wrong with re-enacting the old days in order to appreciate our past or to understand the way our forefathers lived, and we can also do this by following the old paths, where the good way is. (Jeremiah 6:16)
Those who mock and deride the past are not showing respect to the Lord, who uses the past to remind us to follow in His Ways. Those who are really living in the past are the perpetrators of past, failed doctrines and life-styles such as communism, socialism, modernism, rationalism, cynicism, darwinism, dewyism, atheism, skepticism, materialism, marxism, feminism, fabianism, keynesian economics, and many other "isms" that you can read about here. Unregenerated people resurrect these old, dead doctrines generation after generation; old beliefs that provide nothing but dismal, hopeless and demoralizing lives for those who have it imposed on them.
The good news is that God provides something better: the old paths, were is the good walk. Jeremiah 6:16. The old ways that He wants us to follow are found in the precepts, the values, the proverbs, the examples, and the contrasts in His Word.
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