“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be…” Seriously, Robert Browning?
Growing up in the sixties we were taught to “honor your father and your mother”, but we often broke those rules. I worked at a camp for mentally handicapped adults eighteen summers. A fellow staff member and I turned forty on the same day one summer while at camp. We thought we were so old, but still we celebrated hoping to cheer each other up.
A really old lady, Emma Reid Echols, was about seventy years old that summer. She had worked many years as a missionary in Mexico. Each camp session she dressed up in native costumes, danced, sang, and told stories about the founding of churches in Mexico.
One camp session I found her sobbing. She said, “No one pays any attention to me now that I am old. No one talks to me, laughs with me, shares with me.” As she wept Emma cried out, “I guess I am too old to be of use here anymore. This will be my last summer!”
I relied, “Oh, I am so sorry.” But here is what I was really thinking, You are boring us telling the same stories over and over, year after year. And you are so old why would we confide in you?
Now I am old – her age. The young folks, even the forty-somethings do not ask my advice. They ignore me. Like Emma, I have cried over this.
We are in the middle of the 2016 summer olympics. This past Sunday my forty something son took me to church, and God spoke. God is a lot older than I am, so I listened. The sermon was about finishing the race. Derek Redmond ran the hundred yard dash in the 1992 Barcelona olympics. As he ran he tore his hamstring. What happened next is amazing.
Derek was determined to finish the race no matter what. He went hopping down the course in extreme pain. His father joined him, half carrying him, as he hobbled brokenly to the finish line. Last place? Yes, the place he was meant to be. The place from which his victory would speak to us all. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,.” 2 Timothy 4:7
What is the finish line for me? Constant prayer. Writing. Care for the elderly. Making amends. “Honoring [my] father and my mother, that [my] days may be long upon the earth.” Ephesians 6:2