The Scent of Water

Is it possible to experience a change of life at 78? If a generation is 20 years, I have lived through three generational changes and are probably approaching my fourth. At 20, I went away to college to study for the ministry. At 40, my new family and I moved to Massachusetts, which represented a massive cultural change. At 60, we moved into our first mortgaged home instead of renting. [Retirement was only a half dozen years away.] And now, I’m near 80—physically and mentally, if you know what I mean.

The world around me was going through passages of time as well. At 20. the city of my birth was losing its identity as the City of Good Neighbors [Buffalo, NY] while neighborhoods disappeared and were replaced with high-rises, projects, and malls [a mistake they regretted and began to walk back on when I turned 40. But the street I grew up on is unrecognizable for the most part. The house is gone]. The nation in my 20’s was convulsing with a counter-culture movement as they fought a foreign war they couldn’t admit they were losing. At 40, the church I pastored was trying out a full-time pastor [me] for the first time after decades of financial indifference. Now they were buying a parsonage as well! At 60, the sub-prime fiasco was about to go kaboom. But none of this compares to now, at near 80, when a single election—that might even be rigged—in a divided country on the verge of exploding—might mean the end of democracy [so, both sides claim].

I am almost 80. Next month I turn 79—close enough—and all I want to do is sit at this computer and research scripture. I don’t feel capable anymore to be able to teach anything I might learn—nor do I think there would be any serious interest. I write everything into the computer which then becomes another book. I am working on my 22nd. I am not sure if I am learning anything meaningful because my interest in life is waning. T.V. holds no interest for me unless I am watching it with the wife and we can laugh together. And I think if I stopped all Bible studies, no one should care because God would supply others to step in. And I am sorry I disappear for long periods of time from Facebook. I think of friends now gone and if we talk on the phone, I guess you might do most of the talking.

Incidentally, the church, too, is changing. When I began, we huddled in religious ghettos, but now, a new generation of believers, joyfully, is breaking out and tossing the denominational badges away! Music went from worship to praise [There is a difference. Think about it.] The organ is replaced with guitars and drums and pews with chairs—all good—all God.  But I am just sitting there and at times not even listening. Even my singing voice is broken [But last Sunday the lady in the row in front of me expressed appreciation for my singing. Shocking, indeed, but I think I needed that smidgeon of appreciation.]

Well, one of my College instructors, Dr. Beuttler, back in ’69, when we asked him what was next for him [He was planning to stop teaching] he said he didn’t know but we knew that he would only follow the Lord’s call on his life. Five years hence, he was with His Lord in glory. I think of him now. I am older than our Enoch was when he left us. Age is just a number, anyway. And God needs more time to straighten me out—I’m sure.

The Lord knows all this because I let Him in on all my secrets: my feelings, rambling concerns, age appropriate interests—and misappropriate ones, too. This morning I tuned into a religious network—just for background noise while I sulked. Preaching was one of the few ministers I love to listen to and his message seemed directed at me. He even spoke of those persons in our life whom we love but who don’t have any serious interest in the Lord right now. For me some are family members—the one thing I have left I do deeply care about.

He closed with Job 14:7-9. The New English Translation thinks Job is talking about death, but that’s not how I took it—nor how the  T.V. preacher saw it either!  He was talking about unsaved friends and family, but that is only one possible application.

“But there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Although its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump begins to die in the soil,
at the scent of water it will flourish
and put forth shoots like a new plant.”

There is truly a scent of water in the air!

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