Appreciating the Old in the New Year
Aaron Shust reflects on the new year and discovers that many times, newer is not always better.

By NRTeamAdmin

Aaron Shust: "Whether profound or mundane, I am appreciating the older things in this life more and more."
To know where you're going you must know where you came from.   
That quote gets credited to everyone from Cicero to Buddha to Will Smith to Yoda. Safe to say, it's a pretty universally accepted truth. It's true with basic navigation: unless you know your current location, you will never know which direction you need to head to reach your desired destination.
So today is the first day of the New Year: a time for new beginnings! A time for clean slates. A time for starting over. A time for resolutely trying harder to be better than we were last year. A time to try new things, new techniques, new processes, new approaches and new plans. A time to get rid of the old things, the used things, the tried techniques, the used up products, the failed dreams, the inefficient processes and flawed plans.
And more often than not, in the name of a good "Spring Cleaning" we throw out the baby with the bathwater.  
Whether profound or mundane, I am appreciating the older things in this life more and more. They give me a sense of grounding. A sense of who I am and where I'm from. I'm typing in a hotel room right now by candlelight, listening to Nat King Cole sing Christmas carols. I have perfectly good halogen lamps at my disposal and modern music that was recorded on superior equipment available at the click of a button, but sometimes, newer is not necessarily better.  
I am, however, listening on a MacBook Pro and not a Phonograph that I packed in my suitcase. I'm typing this on that same laptop, not a typewriter I lug around. There is balance to be found, as there is with most anything.
I'm in Nashville, because I'm currently in the middle of recording my next album with my band. We're using new technology to record old instruments, with new strings and new drum heads. The best sounding guitar we use is 70 years old. The songs are brand new but many are drawing on texts from old songs in church history like A Mighty Fortress, How Firm A Foundation and The Solid Rock. I grew up singing and loving these old hymns and it's a deep part of my fabric. I'm not going to turn my back on them in the name of pursuing relevance or newness simply because they're old.  
Most human beings, even if they love innovation, recharge on tradition. Traditions allow us to enter into our comfort zones so we can soak in all that is happening around us. What is a Christmas Eve service without familiar carols to sing? What is a baseball game without the seventh inning stretch? What is the Fourth of July without fireworks, America? Ask the Shust family what Saturday mornings are without Pancakes, or Thanksgiving mornings without the Macy's Parade or Tuesday nights in the Summer without the ice cream truck visiting the street! It would be much less of an experience. Until there is an obvious cry for change, such as, "We don't want to sing 'Take Me Out To The Ball Game' anymore!" or "We don't want pancakes on Saturdays anymore!" or "We want to sing all unfamiliar songs on Christmas Eve!" those traditions will, and probably should, stay intact. But there very well may come a time when the demand for those treasured things wane. The trick is being able to identify what to change when
Whatever your ministry is, to your church, your neighbors or your family, I challenge you this coming year to ask God to show you ways to honor your past as you look to shape your future. We need to honor our elders, those who have walked in the steps we are now taking, by valuing their thoughts and their input. They have learned, sometimes the hard way, the lessons we have yet to learn. By not indiscriminately discarding the traditions of yesteryear, we can help the people who are following in our footsteps see Jesus more clearly.  
To know where you're going you must know where you came from.

Posted January 01, 2013 | Aaron Shust is a recording artist signed to Centricity Music. His fourth album, This Is What We Believe, released in August of 2011.

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