The title of this post sounds so dramatic, but it is, nonetheless correct. I play the organ in the temple every Saturday, and as I played Hymn #166, Abide With Me! the words of the second verse really struck home. I am at that time in my life when I am beginning to see that life’s glories are not what they used to be. Here are the words to verse two of the hymn.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!
I would like to talk about what this verse has come to mean to me. The older I get the faster time seems to go by. When I was younger a week felt like a month. Now a year feels like a week. I keep saying to my wife, “Didn’t we just have this holiday?” And we did, a year ago. Life’s little day is slipping away at an alarming rate, but it ebbs, like a tide. When the tide goes in or out it happens so slowly that you have to watch intently over a period of time to mark its coming and going. And yes, it is a huge time waster to do that, but then I seem to have mastered that skill.
I recognize more and more that my wife and I are on borrowed time. If I am blessed with another twenty years I will consider myself lucky. My grandfather lived to be almost 101 years old. He told me once that it was hard to have outlived everyone you ever cared for, to have buried multiple generations of your own family, and to have lived to see the world degenerate into what we have currently. He had no friends, no peers, and no one who understood him from his own generation. He was sad.
Earth’s joys grow dim
The longer I live, the more I see that what the world strives for all lies in the realm of vanity. What is precious to the world cannot be taken out of this world. It is like a quote I recently saw online that said, “It doesn’t matter how big your bank account is, our graves are all the same size.” This life’s glories no longer hold the allure they once held.
I see people struggling for possessions they can’t keep, that won’t make them happy, while their family suffers from an absentee parent (or parents). I see women adopting causes that destroy their testimony in living prophets and lands them outside the Church. What have they gained? Absolutely nothing. What have they lost? Absolutely everything. But they have become so obsessed with their causes that they no longer see that they have given themselves mortal wounds of a spiritual kind.
Change and decay
The line of this verse has puzzled me for decades. Only recently did I spend the time required to reword it so I can understand it. There is change and decay in everything I see around me. Brilliant piece of poetry! The world is falling apart. Everywhere you look you see the disintegration of every institution that used to hold society together. The family is being torn apart from every direction, even internally, through pornography, television, cable, ads, and news. There is so little that comes into our homes either physically or electronically that supports what we value as latter-day saints.
Governmental corruption is increasing all around the world. Financial responsibility isn’t even a consideration any more. Everyone is being encouraged to spend beyond their means. There is only one destiny for these behaviors, and that is dissolution of every government who has spent recklessly. Only those who are willing to do what they have to in order to grab power will be able to maintain control. It won’t be pretty.
Personal morals, customs, belief structures, integrity, etc. are all crumbling. Education is producing an increasing number of diploma-d idiots who cannot spell, think, or reason through a problem. They have no desire to learn, only a desire for someone else to supply them with the answer. My wife and I have worked at the university level for years, and this pattern is increasing at an alarming rate.
Thou who changest not
The one thing that gives me comfort is the gospel of Christ. The standards for excellence never vary. The need to learn, grow, become more than we are, is mandatory in the gospel. We are constantly needing to repent and improve, forgive and seek peace, confess our own weaknesses and show greater tolerance for the weaknesses of others. Christ is the great constant in our lives.
Where the Father is here to uphold justice, the Son is here to offer us mercy, so God’s justice can support us and lift us, instead of condemn us. The gospel is such a perfect plan, and so perfectly executed for a bunch of imperfect children who are all too often ungrateful for the price of that plan.
In a world in a downward spiral, with a life that is filled with so much meaningless fluff, and my own weaknesses still to overcome, I am so grateful that I have a mediator who will stay with me until the end. Christ is our one true standard, a compass with unwavering accuracy. With reverence and gratitude should we all sing, “O thou who changest not, abide with me!”
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