The place was mostly abandoned and spooky. Wind whipped up dry leaves that danced around the empty store fronts. Rows of dealer—not shopper— cars filled the parking lot. We’d hoped to find a place to eat around the mall, but most eateries were closed. We saw up close the new face of suburban America.
On March 1 of this year, CNBC online pronounced, “The retail apocalypse is alive and well this week with major chains… announcing massive closures, totaling the death of more than 465 stores over the last 48 hours.” Ten years ago, only a few saw this massive change coming.
Online shopping from the comfort of your own home is replacing the brick and mortar experience. I do my share online, but still like a retail therapy trip to check out the merchandise. Just as the mall replaced the downtown main street shopping experience during the past fifty years, the future of retail is changing again to meet consumer demands. The malls that are thriving incorporate experiences, other than shopping, to attack customers. Indoor put-put golf, bouncy houses, carousels, pottery painting, and live theaters seem to be major attractions. How do we handle the changing times that are imposed on us by our society?
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. As a Baptist type of Christian, I usually don’t give up anything for the forty days leading up to Easter. But, I feel it’s an important time to reflect on the meaning of Easter and the Resurrection.
In New Testament times, life was about to change drastically for the twelve men we call disciples and all the other followers of the Teacher, who was called Jesus Christ. He tried in many ways to prepare them for the upheaval that would affect their lives forever. Following Jesus was new and exciting as the disciples saw Him perform miracles, heal the sick, and drive out demons. They envisioned a new kind of kingdom that would overthrow the Roman Caesars and restore the power of King David’s empire. They were shocked when Jesus began to predict His death and could not comprehend the possibility of His resurrection. Things were changing all around the disciples, and they didn’t see it coming.
After Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, life would never be the same. He would no longer walk with them in the flesh, but in the Spirit. His disciples and followers ever since would be filled with God’s Spirit when accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. Lives and society would be transformed by the good news of the Gospel.
Will there be malls in twenty years, or will all shopping be done online? I still can’t imagine buying a car online without kicking the tires. Only time will tell, but the huge change that Jesus brought to this world will still be alive and well in the heart and minds of His followers. Climate change proponents who predict that a weather apocalypse will destroy the earth in twelve years must not be students of the Bible.
God plainly states in the Scriptures that He will have the last word and the future of our planet is in His capable and loving hands. We should open our eyes to the truth of God’s word and embrace each season of change.