This is a “no judgment” zone. These words below are worthy of being shared. Gary and Patricia are my parents. They are elderly, and have lived more of history than I, and maybe you.
I’m sharing this very small platform with my parents because they matter, and their voices are important. We have somewhat lost the wisdom of learning from our elders, and our society is the worse for it. If you choose to read their story and mine, please do as my parents taught me.
“If you have nothing nice to say, keep your thoughts to yourself.”
However, should you desire to engage in respectful and honoring dialogue, please let us know. And thank you in advance!
Before a word is on my tongue, You, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.
Psalms 139:4-5 NIV
Gary & Patricia Milford October 19, 2020
Here’s our story….
A few weeks ago my wife was having a conversation with a Christian neighbor / friend.
During the course of that conversation the subject turned to the upcoming 2020 election and our friend made the following comment; “I believe this election will be the most important election of my lifetime and I further believe that if Biden / Harris win this election, it will be an indication that GOD has turned His back on America.” (I don’t know if that’s true or not, but this is what I do know………..)
Later, as my wife was telling me about that conversation my mind went immediately back fifty years to a young man, Don McLean who in 1971 wrote, recorded and performed his now famous song, “Bye Bye Miss American Pie”. The long version of that song is about various events (some tragic) that had occurred in America and how those events impacted the young man’s life. The last verse, however, is about a future event which had not yet occurred. He could not foresee the event, but evidently some foreboding caused him to write it down and include it as the final verse in his song.
- “I met a girl who sang the blues
- And I asked her for some happy news
- But she just smiled and turned away.
- I went down to the sacred store
- Where I’d heard the music years before
- But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
- In the streets the children screamed
- The lovers cried and the poets dreamed.
- But not a word was spoken
- The church bells all were broken
- And the three men I admire most
- The Father, Son and The Holy Ghost
- They caught the last train for the coast,
- The day………….the music………died.
- And they were singin’…..
- Bye bye Miss American Pie
- Drove my Chevy to the levee
- But the levee was dry
- And them good ol’ boys
- A drinkin’ whiskey and rye
- Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die.”
- Bye Bye Miss American Pie
Final verse; Don McLean 1971
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139:16 NIV
The next generation of American Pie. By Lisa Brittain
Hopefully, you’ve read Mom and Dad’s story, and I hope you will take a moment to read mine from the point of view of the next generation. My hope and desire is not to persuade you; rather to cause you to ponder before God. I hope you will ask Him all your deepest and most relevant questions. You, in the next generation, please will you write your story? I pray we, people of all generations, will continue to share our stories even when we disagree regarding the bigger picture of life on planet Earth.
Our stories are unique. My parent’s story is their story. It is part of history, and God always meant for Mom’s story and Dad’s story to be single threads in the fabric of the greater portrait of God’s design. My story is unique as well, and my story is a thread also. Your thread is important. Please receive this truth. Your thread, your story is unique and important.
So, with that… here I go… jumping in the deep end!
Even though American Pie was released by Don Mclean in 1971, most likely you’re fairly familiar with this song.
Dad started singing it while we worked in the shop weaving a new seat on a chair. He stopped singing, and proclaimed, “It’s almost 50 years old, you know? That song came out when you were 9.” These memories of our shared days gone by are precious to me. I love stories! I love true life stories, especially the ones which contain a part of my family history.
Often times, the truth from God’s word mixed together with life experiences and distant memories mingle together with a glistening in Dad’s eyes. Sometimes, as we both get older, the stories are more animated with emotion, and many times shared from a place of growing grace and gentleness.
I can usually tell when a story is about to come forward. His hands get still, and he’s quiet for a moment. The story begins in his eyes, and I can tell that what I am about to hear is important. I want to listen and learn from Dad’s hard earned wisdom for as long as possible. So, together, we take a moment. He talks and I listen.
“I remember that old song,” I agreed.
And I do. American Pie in the fullness of it’s 8+ minutes is etched in my childhood memories. There’s a whole soundtrack of Eagles, Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, and the like; which play behind all the memories of warm days and breezy nights, bikes and trees, the sun and surf of my South Florida childhood. Isn’t it interesting the way a particular song can take you right back to a moment in time?
My childhood years were not peaceful days as we sometimes want to remember the “good old days”. There was much contention and unrest in the 1960’s & 70’s. Our view of the past generally becomes dulled by time and age. However, the songs of a culture tell the story of the culture and the signs of the times. When we choose to remember honestly, we have to acknowledge that generations of people were anxious, frustrated, angry and afraid because of the destructive atmosphere invading America during those two decades. People of all ages and cultures were desiring peace and love – seeking hope and unity.
The current atmosphere of division, hate and destruction with all the emotions that go with it, are not new. Unfortunately, we have been here before. Maybe there’s more to learn…
The evening news of my childhood contained graphic pictures of the Viet Nam war, civil rights marches, destructive protests, and a president under investigation. Hatred, bloodshed, and division invaded our home through the television during my childhood. Current events are not new. And so American Pie was one of those songs that gave people living in that era a ballad with which to express their emotions, questions, and angst.
Suddenly, my Dad pondered out loud, “What if these words are for now?” He was specifically reflecting on the last verse of the song – American Pie
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The father, son, and the holy ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
We wondered together: What if this young man wrote, prophetically, of a time when God would actually give up on America? Perhaps in 1971 it seemed to the young song writer, as it seemed to many Americans then, that the fabric of our land was irreparably torn. It’s a relevant question, and I’m so glad Dad brought the question out into the open air. We rolled the question about – tossing circumstances back and forth.
Yet, in the end we strolled confidently back to the truth we both know. He and I both have built our lives on the foundation of God’s truth – the solid rock – and that’s exactly where we landed. We walked right back to Psalm 139 – the scripture we are currently memorizing together – and stood there smiling in the assurance of God’s love for us.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10 NIV
Dad pondered the question… “What if the upcoming 2020 election results decide whether God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) gives up on America?” I honestly do not know the answer to that question. No one knows the answer to that question, except well, God Himself. However, it is a good and honest question.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24 NIV
This I do know. Whether God ever gives up on America, He will NEVER give up on His children. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. His promises are trustworthy and true. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5)
It would be awful to live in America if God should choose to take His hand of favor from our land. Dad, Mom and I are not the only people asking these questions. We’re all asking, seeking, and knocking in search of the TRUTH. Just as in the days of my birth and youth – the turbulent 60’s and 70’s or the war torn years of WWII, into which my parents were both born –many today are asking the same questions again and again.
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling. Kiss His Son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Psalms 2:10-12 NIV
Have we as a country gone too far?
I personally believe that is the wrong question. I believe we’re suffering in our country because the family of God is broken. The bride of Christ has been caught in adultery. The children of God are sleeping. The Church of the Living God has been unaware, uninvolved and selfishly looking for Jesus to step out of heaven signalling the eternal exit route.
Have we, in America, crossed the point of no return? Or has God’s family become so lukewarm that we’ve lost our first love?
God’s greatest commandments are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re not seeing a whole lot of love in our country right now. The Church should be leading the love parade, but many churches are closed, hiding in fear, and just as divided in speech and action as the unbelieving world around us.
People of God, wake up! Come alive, dry bones! Awaken to the call of God on your life. All of the unbelieving world, in one way or another, are still seeking and longing for peace, love, unity and truth. (Matthew 7:7–8, Jeremiah 33:2–3)
Why aren’t we taking them by the hand, loving them where they are and introducing them to Jesus? Why aren’t we obeying the commands of God? Why aren’t we loving the One who saved us from ourselves?
What if 50 years ago a young man was inspired to write an 8+ minute song, so that all these years later awakening hearts would remember and begin to pray? Do you know Don McLean was told that his song was too long? He was told American Pie would never get radio time. It was just too long and people wouldn’t listen. Yet, fifty years later this song is still getting air time, and another generation knows the words by heart.
Do you know that God called many people such as Noah, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (just to name a few) to proclaim a message of truth and salvation to the people of the world? God has spoken His message through faithful servants throughout all the years of history, but the majority of people didn’t listen. The message was discounted and scoffed at, but the messengers sent it forth anyway in obedience to God’s calling. I’m worried about being called “weird”; but truly, many people have paid for their obedience with their lives.
Do you know that God sent forth another messenger; this time His very own Son? The Son of God left His Throne in heaven and put on the lowly flesh of our humanity to proclaim the good news of God’s deliverance. He came into our world to love and heal, to declare truth and to redeem the broken, and the people He created and breathed into life killed Him for His message.
Jesus came with a message from His Father that we could, if willing, be adopted into God’s family. Jesus said that His Father would be our Father. He would love us as the Father and Son love one another. Jesus promised that if we were adopted into God’s family we would be united with God as Father and as Son, and that the Holy Spirit of God would come and dwell with us until the end of the age. (Ephesians 1, 1 John 3:1)
I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23
So, is it the end of the age? I don’t know. Are the three we admire most – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – about to take the last train for the coast? I don’t know. But I have some thoughts…
Here’s where I’ve landed after this whole American Pie pondering…
Curious about the song from 1971, I went to Google. Interestingly, I found a verse which had been written in the song writer’s notes, but never included in the recording. This deleted verse, I think, is more important than those included in the recording. Reading the verse below, I recognize a reminder that God is a God of second chances and more.
And there I stood alone and afraid
I dropped to my knees and there I prayed
And I promised him everything I could give
If only he would make the music live
And he promised it would live once more
But this time one would equal four
And in five years four had come to mourn
And the music was reborn
When we’re afraid we’ve gone too far, when we feel all alone, and we feel we’ve blown it one too many times; there’s an opportunity to fall to our knees and pray. We might make a promise to give everything we have to give, but really all that is necessary is to give our soul in full surrender to God.
I don’t have all the answers for myself, my family or my land. I’m not quite sure what, if anything, all these words mean about yesterday or today or our future. And quite honestly, I’m not sure why God hasn’t given up on America, or me, way before now. All I can surmise by His forbearance is that God is exceedingly gracious, merciful and kind.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good ; His love endures forever! Psalm 107:1
Has God turned away from America? Is He about to do so? I honestly do not know. Nor do you.
What I do know is that if we, who bear Christ’s name, are simply looking for the escape route to heaven, we are living disobedient. We’re not following God’s command to love Him and to love our neighbor. If we’re looking for our way out of all this mess by hiding and staying silent, we’re not following Jesus’ command to go into all the world and proclaim His name. If we’re not healing the sick, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry with the Bread of Life; we’re simply living disobedient. Why shouldn’t a good Father be upset about that?
God is good and merciful and long-suffering. And I know that whether God gives up on America or not, He will NEVER turn away from His children. He is a good Father, and so He does discipline His children out of His abundant kindness. (Deuteronomy 8:5)
God, our Father, Son, and Holy Ghost may simply be waiting at the coast for His children to turn and run into His loving arms of forgiveness.
Is it bye, bye to America as we have always known her?
Is that necessarily a bad thing?
However, Church in America, yes – I mean The Bride of Christ – it is time for us to wake up and arise. It is time for us to wash the sleep from our eyes. It’s time to go out to the fields and joyfully, triumphantly, bring in the harvest of ripened souls.
It is time for us to purify our thoughts, our lips, and our hearts, our hands and our feet. It is time for the Bride of Christ to consecrate herself and dress for the wedding banquet of the Lamb.
It is time to prepare invitations and make them ready for those who will receive the good news of the Bridegroom.
It is time for the music to be reborn. It is time to glorify our King, Jesus.
Great is the Lord , and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Psalms 48:1 NIV
If you made it this far, thank you for reading my very long pondering message. Just like Don McLean, I’ve most often been told, “Your stories are too long. No one will ever read them.” That’s okay because you just did.
Thank you, and may God, our Father, His Son and our Redeemer, and our Comforter, Holy Spirit be glorified. May Almighty God’s Name be magnified and made famous. And may I spend eternity in Heaven with you, my friend, so that we can praise God and tell stories forever and ever. Amen.
PS – I just completed 80 days of reading out loud the word of God from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22:21. Our Zoom community (Healing Strong) began reading on August 1, 2020, and we completed the reading on October 19, 2020. I highly recommend this journey to all who have questions.
The reading of God’s Word out loud in community is powerful. God’s Word is powerful for transformation. So, if we’re seeking transformation in our land, I recommend we start with personal transformation through the reading and declaring of the Living and Active Word of God. Give it a try. Take God at His Word. See what happens.
May God bless you with all the richness of His Glorious Light; may you receive His healing and life abundant, and may you spend the rest of your life making His name famous! Amen.