RITE OF PASSAGE: Senior blessings
When you talk about a family, you are not only talking about mom, dad and children, but grandparents, too. More and more, it seems as though today’s culture has diminished the value of senior adults and especially the impact grandparents can have on children’s lives. The other day, I heard a grandmother jokingly explain that she is worth more today than ever before. She has silver in her hair, gold in her teeth, stones in her kidneys, lead in her feet and gas in her stomach.
Whether our culture recognizes it or not, senior adults are a key part of God’s economy in raising healthy children. Many years ago, I was touched by a set of grandparents who weren’t . . . ours. My wife and I had been living in Tulsa for a few years and had bought a home. We, like most couples in that early phase of married life, didn’t have much. I was starting a new job and still working my way through school. My wife, a stay-at-home mom, kept busy with our two young sons. For the most part, life consisted of making it from one week to the next.
Back then, little things meant a lot. We considered it a major event if we saved up enough money to hire a babysitter so we could dine at an upscale restaurant like Denny’s. In those days, any restaurant that didn’t have a Happy Meal on the menu was . . . upscale.
O.D. and Eloise Strozier were a senior adult couple in our church. They have both gone home to be with the Lord but their legacy still brings those who knew them . . . joy. O.D. was one of those men you could talk to for five minutes and feel as if you had known him all your life. He had a Santa Claus personality with a heart to match. From the moment we met, O.D. and I were close; he and my dad even went by the same initials. This godly man loved everyone and was generous to a fault. His wife was a WMU woman, passionate about the lostness of the world. For 25 years, I was the Bible study leader for her WMU group. I spent many hours in Eloise’s living room praying with these wonderful ladies for the missionaries who had birthdays that day.
At some point, the Stroziers started a tradition that touched many other husbands and wives. When they had a wedding anniversary, they took the money they might have spent on each other and gave it to a less fortunate couple. One year, my wife and I were the recipients of this special blessing.
Our wedding anniversary falls on Dec. 20. I have often asked my wife to remind me why we got married five days before Christmas. She explains that I had taken a job in another state and didn’t want to start my new life . . . alone. Our anniversary usually gets lost in the rush of Christmas preparations. This year, however, was different. We received an envelope from O.D. and Eloise. It contained $50 and a note that explained the joy they found in passing the blessing of their marriage to another couple. Their generosity touched me so deeply that even as I write about it, my eyes well up with emotion.
I proudly escorted my wife to dinner at a restaurant where the silverware wasn’t wrapped in a paper napkin. Our anniversary seemed extra-special because our dear friends had recognized it as an occasion to . . . celebrate.
This event took place more than 20 years ago, but the Stroziers’ thoughtful gesture has never left our hearts. Today we’re at the point where we can pass on their kindness. We’re not grandparents yet, but we’ve started watching for ways to minister to young couples. Sometimes we provide free babysitting. Sometimes we send them out to have a meal on us. I may never have considered blessing others this way without the wonderful example of O.D. and Eloise.
I encourage you senior adults and grandparents-to-be: find some struggling young couple and ask the Lord to show you how to bless them. And in case you’re wondering, I can now afford to take my wife out to a real restaurant every so often. Guess what? The menu doesn’t include either a Grand Slam Breakfast or a Happy Meal!
Do you know what I’ve learned? As you bless others, God sends buckets of blessings your way. And I am grateful to say that . . . I am blessed.
Father, would You remind all senior saints of their worth and value before You? Give them an extra blessing today just to say . . . they matter. Amen.