For over an hour the other day I strolled down Nostalgia Lane with a September 4, 1939, copy of Time magazine. What a journey! Pickups sold for $465 and best-selling books cost $2. Big news in the music world was Bing Crosby, whose records sold for 35 cents a platter. What was most intriguing, however, was the international scene, as presented by the staff writers. The threat of war was a slumbering giant, and Adolf Hitler's name appeared on almost every page of the Foreign News section. President Franklin Roosevelt was busy calming the troubled waters of our nation's fear of war, speaking openly of his "lovely hope for peace." In spite of the Nazi war machine that had already consumed Italy, Sicily, Albania, and was primed to pounce on Poland, Hungary, Belgium, and France, the talk in America was amazingly casual—a smug, business-as-usual attitude.
How naive we were! Little did we know that within months the insane fuehrer would unleash a hellish nightmare from which we could not escape. Before his screams were silenced, acres of soil would be covered with small white crosses, and thousands of American homes would have their tranquil plans for peace invaded by the brutal enemy of grief.
Every so often when we enter such a relatively calm era, it is easy to forget the prophet's warning to beware of those who superficially heal the brokenness of a nation by announcing "peace, peace" when "there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). And if we feel sufficiently comfortable and relaxed, it's mighty easy to block from our minds the Savior's prediction of "wars and rumors of wars" and His warning that "many false prophets will arise and mislead many" (Matt. 24:6–7, 11).
Who knows? Fifty years from now another preacher could be leafing through a Time magazine yellow with age, feeling a nostalgic twinge and smiling at what we consider modern times. He will no doubt notice the business-as-usual look on our faces, only to be seized with the realization that we had no idea what a ragged edge we were living on in our relaxed American culture.
If indeed there is an America fifty years from now.
We need to be alert. Sometimes the best of times may be a breeding ground for the worst of times.
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