Living in harmony with God, with one another, and our environment.
A wise man once said “There is nothing new under the sun”, and then went on to explain just what he meant, in these words. “It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things” (Ecclesiastes 1:10,11).
So the present rush to make the most of wind power, for generating electricity is nothing new. The windmills of Holland remind us of that. The technique has been tried and tested long ago, albeit on a smaller scale. Windmills and watermills were once vitally important for grinding corn to make flour, before they were replaced by steam-driven and then gasoline or diesel-driven engines.
With energy sources running out and carbon emissions causing such concern, going back to wind power – for the production of electricity – is a sober reminder of how things are changing. Perhaps it is the case that the future lies behind us!
The ancient Greeks and the Mayan civilisation, among others, tended to view the past as the future and the future as the past. Their argument was that we know what happened in the past, but we cannot tell what lies ahead, so the one is certain and the other completely uncertain. The future is constantly “sneaking up” on us, as if from behind, while we are able to scrutinize the past at our leisure. Imagine you were walking backwards. To avoid stumbling, you would have to draw clues and inferences from the scenery that was receding before you. You would never see directly what was coming, but would have to infer it. One writer put it this way: “This model seems much closer to the realm of actual experience than ours, which has us facing a future that we somehow can't see, with our backs to a past that is plainly visible”.
Learning from the Past
If you turn that image around, there is clearly a danger that by looking forwards all the time we have turned our back on the past, which is now behind us. We can then easily forget what has happened and keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. That’s how many people choose to live, of course, always hoping that something better will happen ‘this time around’. But a wiser course of action would be to learn from the past and then find a better way of doing things.
Take the case of windmills and wind power. When they were used extensively in the past, that was a time when mankind worked in harmony with nature, using natural sources of energy – like wind and water – and there was then no question of pollution or environmental damage. It was also a time when the pace of life was slower and when people lived closer together, and more communally, than they do nowadays. So the past has some important lessons to teach us, if we are willing to learn.
Written for Us!
The apostle Paul once appealed to his readers along similar lines, though not about windmills. He reminded some believers in Corinth, in ancient Greece, that God had once dealt very severely with the Israelites when they were travelling through the wilderness. They had lapsed into idolatry and immorality, something that was an ever-present danger for the Greeks in Corinth, a city which was notorious for its immorality. He was referring to events that happened nearly one thousand five hundred years before – I suppose we would call that ‘ancient history’. But notice what he said:
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11,12).
The apostle Paul was remarkably forward-looking in the way he lived. There were things he had done in the past that he wanted to forget, and he lived in a way which was intended to make up for those past mistakes. He once summed up his spiritual philosophy in these words:
“One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).
He was like a runner in a race – the race for life – who constantly pressed forward towards the winning post. But for all that energetic endeavour he was not unmindful of what lay behind and wanted to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others. His reminder to the Corinthians was that the Bible is crammed full of helpful examples and the life histories of people who have gone before along this very road. They can teach us a great deal, if we read and consider them.
We are companions on the roadthrough life, every one of us trying to find the right way forward.
- We must try to live in harmony with one another, because we allneed help and encouragement, especially when things are difficult.
- We must try to live in harmony with our environment and thus appreciate the opportunities in life that God has given us.
- But most importantly we must learn to live in harmony with God, so that we might walk with Him through life and thus obtain the priceless gift of eternal life when Jesus returns.
If we are to do this successfully we must be in agreement with God’s values and familiar with His view of life. A prophet once issued this challenge:
“Can two walk together, unless theyare agreed?” (Amos 3:3).
The answer is clearly “No!” But the opportunity still exists for us to make an agreement with God and to learn to follow His direction through life. There is no better way.
-- Tecwyn Morgan