RITE OF PASSAGE: The Incredibles
Yesterday, our church honored our senior adults at a special banquet. My Sunday School class volunteered to do the serving. Out of the 200 who attended, I believe at least 199 were Baptist Messenger readers. As I was going from table to table pouring tea, people were telling me how much they enjoy reading this column. While I was trying to bless them, they blessed me even more. If I have learned nothing else in my years of ministry, I have learned that you can never out-serve or out-give senior adults.
After I finished my table duties, I sat down next to the most delightful couple: Mr. and Mrs. James. Although they have been married more than 60 years, they acted as though they were on their first date. If you saw them look into each other’s eyes, you would see a love that has withstood the test of time. Mr. James talked about his tomatoes and about how he had passed on his enthusiasm for gardening to his son. Then, he proceeded to tell me a story. His son thought dandelions were the most beautiful flowers he had ever seen-so beautiful that one day, he dug them up out of the yard and transplanted them . . . to the flower bed. Another couple leaned over, whispering, “Do you know who his son is?” Of course, I had no clue. They informed me that he is Paul James, the comical host of HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard.” I could see the pride in his son’s accomplishments shining in Mr. James’ eyes.
One by one, the senior adults told me stories about their families. It brought back the good old days, when the local newspaper had an entire section devoted to the latest happenings amongst the town folks. It usually went something like this:
Yesterday, Junior’s Uncle Zebedee came from Des Moines, Iowa to spend a couple of days with him. Uncle Zebedee used to visit twice a year, but since his gout is becoming unpredictable, he has cut back to just once a year. Last year, when Uncle Zebedee visited, he and Junior went to the Piggy Wiggly. Uncle Zebedee forgot to put the car into “park,” and while they were in the store, it rolled out of the parking lot, across the street, and into an open garage. Of course, when Junior and Uncle Zebedee came out of the store, they thought someone had stolen the car, and called the police. Junior’s first cousin, Sam, the officer who responded, roared into the parking lot, sirens blaring, and jumped out like a one-man SWAT team. Piggly Wiggly hasn’t seen this much excitement since Grand Opening Day. At the same time, Sam got a call from the dispatcher. Mrs. Jones, who lives across the street from the Piggly Wiggly, found a strange automobile parked in her garage. After carefully investigating for an hour and a half, Officer Sam resolved both incidents at once. He received a commendation for his fine work, and a certificate honoring him as Officer of the Month.
As your years wind down, you begin to sift through your life. When you evaluate what is truly important, you come to the inevitable conclusion that family . . . matters. In fact, if you read the Bible, you can’t get away from family. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father…” In church life, we refer to each other as . . . brothers and sisters. Many of the senior adults with whom I spent time yesterday could have regaled me with their accomplishments. Among them were captains of industry and founders of corporations. Instead of telling me about their business achievements, they all talked about their families-both the joys and the disappointments.
One of my own regrets is that I didn’t discover the value of family any sooner than I did. Recently, an animated movie, “The Incredibles,” told the story of a Superhero father who focused more on his career than his family. Of course, when dad gets into trouble, it is his family members who come to the rescue. By the movie’s end, they all discover and learn to appreciate one another’s gifts and abilities.
I pray that today, you celebrate your family. Don’t wait until it is too late. Write your spouse and each of your children a letter that begins, “I love you because . . .,” listing all the things you appreciate about that individual. See the changes that God brings about when each one understands that he or she is a person of worth and value.
Of course, since Day One of writing this column, I have always considered you a part of my family. I know that pleases “Our Father.” He thinks we’re all . . . incredible.