Today, Cooper Inskeep, one of our grandchildren, turned 6. So tonight, I went over to Kristin and Jimmy’s house for a barbecue to celebrate. It was nice getting together with the family, although I miss Janet, and to see the excitement about opening presents.
As I get older, I seem to be drawn to recalling certain distant memories in my own life and tonight was no exception. Because I turned 6 in Feb. 1959 and I still have vivid memories of my life back them. I distinctly remember standing in the dining room with my father on January 1, 1959 and having him show me the date on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. It was the first time that I remember seeing 1958 the day before and then observing the change of the year. And I remember Dad telling me that the next year the date would turn to 1960. I was so excited. And sure enough, I remember the day we entered the 1960’s – standing in the same place in our dining room as Dad and I opened the New Year’s Day paper together.
The year of 1959 really contained some historical stuff. For example, it was one of the years that Khrushchev was in power in Russia, that Fidel Castro came to full power in Cuba and also the year that the Mercury 7 astronauts were selected. Aside from all the serious stuff, it was also the year that Barbie made her debut. It was also the year that we added our most recent states to the US – Alaska and Hawaii.
But to a kid, none of this was as important as the things that we remember first hand. I was in kindergarten during the beginning of the year and I remember our bottled milk each day in class; and how we had nap time on our rugs after our milk break. We used to scoot around on the floor and try to not get caught by our teacher. Then, in September, I started first grade in Mrs. Maravello’s class. The most surprising thing that happened that year was how we had to learn to respond to air raid drills. Whenever the school sirens were sounded, we had to pull the shades to darken the room, run into the hall to get our jackets and then sit in front of our lockers with our coats pulled over our heads to prevent being hit with broken glass in the event of an attack.
We didn’t know any better – we thought planning for a Russian attack was normal. But then again, tonight at dinner, I learned about school lock-downs and the protocols for handling intruders to ensure the safely of the children. It’s a different world we live in today, isn’t it.
We didn’t have airport security, we dressed in our best clothes to fly or to go to the doctor, and we wore our Sunday shoes when we went to church. We respected our parents and would never think to talk to our parents the way our kids have spoken to us. Families ate dinner together and homework was done on time. If you had a note from the teacher, you gave it to your parents – you didn’t forget about it, or tear it up, or lie about it. And when the porch light went on, you better be getting home. Play time was over, and you were expected back at the house.
Of course, we didn’t have video games – in fact, we didn’t have color TV. No VCR’s and casette players were still a thing of the future. I even remember when we converted from dial phones to touch tone.
Somebody asked me today if I wish I could trade places with Cooper and do it all over again. I have never really thought about that, but my first reaction is “no.” While I would love to add all those years to my life, I am not so sure that I would enjoy all the learning again. Theologically, I believe that God put me in a certain time and place to do something for the Kingdom that He has assigned to me. Throughout my life, He has given me the spiritual gifts, skills and experiences that have prepared me for this time and place. And I don’t want to miss the blessings of God. So I am excited about what God has called me to do.
When I look at Cooper, I still see a blank slate, but God already has Cooper’s assignment ready for him. Now, Cooper has to develop his gifts and skills in concert with his life experiences to fulfill his God given passion and mandate. And it’s important to remember that God always accomplishes what He sets out to do. If you don’t accept the call, you better move over because God is going to get it done through somebody else. But His will is going to get accomplished.
So what do all those childhood memories have to do with today? Paul gives us a glimpse in 1 Cor 13″11, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” In other words, we are to use God’s instruction at the various times of our lives to build for the future.
My encouragement tonight is to invite you to go back and re-assess the things of your youth – your dreams, ambitions, gifts and talents. I guarantee you that there is pattern to your life and you may be able to see part of the plan that God has in store for you. My prayer is that you will remain true to the mission that God has in store for you. After all, there is something that you can do better than anybody in eternity past or eternity future. And by the way, Happy Birthday, Cooper! God has great plans for you…