You know, a funny thing happened on my way to the bacon and eggbeaters sandwich on white buttered toast…
This particular morning had already been agendized. Wake up early, go grab a nice, but quick, breakfast, spend some time in the Word and off to the office for what I had anticipated to be a challenging day of counseling. Little did I know what God had in store for me on this particular day. The entire restaurant was empty except for a group of about thirty older men who were chatting, eating and sipping their coffee. I would have to estimate the average age of this group to be eighty. The server seated me in a booth that was very close to the congregation of “seasoned” citizens. There was a sign posted behind the men (which they obviously posted themselves, with pride) that read “United States Veterans Club”. As I sat, many of them greeted me with a warm “Hello”, which I reciprocated. I will admit that it was nice to be regarded as a “young whipper-snapper” amongst these crusty codgers.
Without a beat one of the men came over to me and asked if I was a veteran, to which I replied, “No, sir, I am not. But I have a great deal of respect for those who have served our country in its defense.” “What do you do?” he asked. “I’m a pastor. I counsel and offer guidance to those in need.” He smiled, “Oh, my friend, the battles that you fight are every bit as real as the battles that we have been involved in.”
Pretty soon, another gentleman slide out of his seat and right into my both, directly across from me. Another joined us. I felt like I had become an honorary vet. They began sharing some of their life experiences, their struggles and victories, and lessons learned on their journeys. They shared their stories of faith while presenting their personal testimonies to me, a complete stranger. I said very little, just listened intently. I had a rare opportunity to glean from approximately 225 years of accumulated history. They shared with honor, yet humility. It was my time to learn. My quiet, solo breakfast turned into a colorfully and richly detailed lesson in human endeavor and perseverance. I cannot minimize, and they will never fully understand, the impact that these men left on me at that fateful breakfast.
As a Christian, I walked away from the encounter with several lessons that I need to practice always. I pray that I am so welcoming and open to experiencing the lives of others and willing to be so bold, yet humble in sharing my faith. I pray that I will take the time to listen to what those older than myself have to offer, because there is much to glean. I also pray that I never develop a “I have arrived” attitude; that arrogance will never deflect what I have yet to learn (which is much!)
My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,… Proverbs 6:20-23
Solomon’s wisdom speaks volumes to us all and transcends the confines of a familial relationship. There is wisdom all around us in the minds of those often written off by our society. I encourage you, don’t let the fear of a wrinkled, faded, well-worn stage curtain prevent you from peering into the wisdom and illumination that may lie just beyond it. Those extra years may give you wisdom that you seek.
James, the gentleman who first slid into my booth concluded our interaction by stating, “I know I’m just rambling on and I don’t have much of a formal education, but thank you for letting me sit with you.” Smiling, I replied, “My friend, there are far too many who have exchanged a fancy piece of paper for their faith. Never underestimate the value of what you have learned and the importance that it is to the next generation. I thank you.” And so we all parted. I can’t speak for them, but I can say that I am richer for the experience. Again, God’s agenda is better than my own.
Love our senior’s, remember, you will be one before you know it!
©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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