Grandpa, Tell Me 'bout the Good Old Days

Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days.

Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy.

Grandpa, take me back to yesterday.

When the line between right and wrong didn't seem so hazy.

Did lovers really fall in love to stay,

Stand beside each other come what may?

A promise really something people kept,

Not just something they would say?

Did families really bow their heads to pray?

Daddies really never go away?

Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days.

Grandpa, everything is changing fast.

We call it progress, but I just don't know.

And Grandpa, wander back into the past,

Then paint me a picture of long ago.

Did lovers really fall in love to stay,

Stand beside each other come what may?

A promise really something people kept,

Not just something they would say and forget?

Did families really bow their heads to pray?

Daddies really never go away?

Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days.

Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days. (7)

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Chapter 9: Just Passing Through

In August 1977, my wife and children joined me on a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, for a short visit with my parents.  We enjoyed several days of family togetherness before it was time to leave.  As we drove to the airport where we would say goodbye, I asked my father to pray for us. I will never forget his words.  He closed with this thought.

And Lord, we want to thank You for the fellowship and love that we feel for each other today.  This has been such a special time for us with Jim and Shirley and their children.  But Heavenly Father, we are keenly aware that the joy that is ours today is a temporal pleasure.  Our lives will not always be this stable and secure.  Change is inevitable and it will come to us, too.  We will accept it when it comes, of course, but we give You praise for the happiness and warmth that has been ours these past few days.  We have had more than our share of the good things, and we thank You for Your love. Amen.

Shortly thereafter, we hugged and said goodbye and my family boarded the plane.  A week later, my father suddenly grabbed his chest and told my mother to call the paramedics.  He left us on December 4 of that year.  Shortly after, my mother joined him in Heaven.  How quickly life changes!

Even today, so many years later, my dad's final prayer echoes in my mind.  An entire philosophy is contained in that simple idea.  "Thank You, God, for what

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we have, which we know we cannot keep."  I wish every newlywed couple could capture that incredible concept.  If we only realized how brief is our time on this earth, then most of the irritants and frustrations which drive us apart would seem terribly insignificant and petty.  We have but one short life to live, yet we contaminate it with bickering and insults and angry words.  If we fully comprehended the brevity of life, our greatest desire would be to please God and to serve one another.  Instead, the illusion of permanence leads us to scrap and claw for power and demand the best for ourselves.

A very good friend of mine left his wife and children a few years ago to marry a recently divorced woman.  They were both in their fifties.  I remember thinking when I heard the news, Why did you do it?  Don't you both know that you will be standing before the Lord in the briefest moment of time?  How will you explain the pain and rejection inflicted on your loved ones?  What a terrible price to pay for so short an adventure!

To young men and women on the threshold of married life, I hope you can bring your attitudes into harmony with this eternal perspective.  Try not to care so much about every minute detail that separates you and your loved ones.  It's all vanity, anyway.  Solomon told us that.  Have you ever tried to recall a major fight you had with a friend or a family member approximately six months earlier?  It's very difficult to remember the details even a week later.  The fiery intensity of one moment is the hazy memory of another.  Hold loosely to life and keep yourself free of willful and deliberate sin.  That's the key to happiness.

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A Final Thought

Let me conclude this discussion with an illustration from my college days.  During my freshman year I entered the mile run in a field of about twenty men.  I was in good shape and finished second to an outstanding senior who rarely lost.  He graduated that year and left the vacancy to me.  Unfortunately, I discovered girls in my sophomore year and I let myself get a little soft.  I had no idea that my body was going to play dead on that day of the race.  I walked onto the track full of expectancy and determination.  With the sound of the gun I tore off around the first turn leaving the pack far behind.  I felt marvelous.  But by the second turn my side was splitting and the pack was closing in.  By the time I completed the first lap, I was sucking air frantically and my chest was heaving like a great gray whale.  Runners I had beaten the year before were passing me on every side and I had only one desire — Get your bod off this track before your lungs explode.  I collapsed on the infield grass in a sweating heap of shame and failure.  I looked up just in time to see my girl friend leave the stadium with her head down.  What a tough moment for a once-proud sophomore!

Fortunately, I learned a valuable lesson that day on the track.  It became clear to me that great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes.  We have all seen men and women quickly dazzle the world and then fade in dishonor and ruin.  Most of life, you see, is a marathon and not a sprint.  It just goes on and on, and the pressure to give up seems to increase with the passage of time.

That is certainly true in the Christian life.  It is what the apostle Paul referred to when he said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).  By these words, Paul was expressing satisfaction at having crossed the finish line without yielding to the pressure to cave in.

Alas, married life is a marathon, too.  It is not enough to make a great start toward long-term marriage.  You will need the determination to keep plugging, even when every fiber in your body longs for the infield. Only then will you

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make it to the end.  But hang in there. Shirley and I will be waiting for you at the finish line.

Happy Anniversary, the first or the fiftieth.

Love for a Lifetime

By Dr. James Dobson

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