Making Our Lives Count
We just hired another “Scott” at the cafeteria and Kevin, one of my co-workers, and now also a friend, has stuck me with the label “Moses” to avoid the confusion of having two “Scott”s. Quite honestly, I suppose that I should be honored to be held in such high company, but maybe it is because of my age, as opposed to the life experiences I have had so far that I can bring to the table. After all, there is no denying that I am the senior statesman in our young group.
So as I was writing my post last evening, about bushes and pruning, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind that I should be writing about Moses and all the things he experienced in his life that benefited those who came after him. But Moses had a great legacy – he really spent his life preparing for each successive episode. For example, he grew up in the house of Pharaoh, and became knowledgable and proficient in the ways of the Egyptian people. However, he then witnessed the beating of a Jewish slave by an overseer and in a moment of rage, killed the attacker. The next day, he found out that his crime had been witnessed by another person and out of fear, Moses fled to the desert.
This is where Moses had his “burning bush” experience, and he spent more than 40 years learning about the desert and how to survive. Of course, most of us know that Moses was being groomed by God for his next mission – to lead the Jewish nation out of Egypt, for another 40 year stint in the desert. Moses, who finally died at 120 years old, spent three different seasons of his life (40 years each) in preparation for what God had in store as his next assignment. From the house of Pharaoh, to the desert, to the leader of the nation that would become Israel.
This morning, I was watching TV and saw that former Pres. George Bush (senior) is 88 years old today – what an inspiration he is to his family and to the nation. Regardless of your political persuasion, the man is a true picture of humanity and his years of public service have left us the beneficiaries of his wisdom and knowledge. He just seems like such a great guy, and has such passion for his beloved Kennebunkport, located on the coast of Maine. Janet and I have actually driven past his home and Kennebunkport is one of our favorite places to visit, although it has been years since we have been there.
But it still wasn’t over this morning – I remembered that Dr. Branine, a wonderful older man who was my theology professor in seminary, celebrated his 85th birthday today. So I called him – and had a wonderful conversation about his life. I was blessed by the experience. Of course, he is a humble guy and I am sure that most of the school staff doesn’t even know it was his birthday. That’s just how he is. And sure enough, we started talking about the Bible and he ambushed me with a question about the writing of the Gospels when I told him that I was teaching Matthew this year. Which was written first – Matthew or Mark? Now this is an age old debate that has been around for centuries, although you have to be kind of nerdy to study stuff like this. But I took the bait – I should have known better than to have fallen into his trap…
I chose Mark – he chose Matthew, and then told me why. Now I have more than 8 years of seminary and you know what? I came home tonight and studied it, because I respect Doc so much that I can’t just deny his thoughts on this. He is older, and wiser; and has poured his life into me. I am honored by that. And you know what? His argument makes sense and I think I may have to alter my position. But all this happened because I called to wish him a Happy Birthday. Another older man mentoring someone else, who is benefiting from Doc’s years of experience, just living life. What an example to all of us – God is sure using Dr. Branine to advance His kingdom. No doubt.
And while I am on a roll, this post wouldn’t be complete without including my father-in-law, John, in the group of older people who have poured their lives into others. Aside from his role as the patriarch of the family, he has mentored young people, and I mean young kids, for a number of years now, and he has just taken on the assignment of continuing with his young protege for another school year – and John is ninety. Just imagine what a blessing it is for a young person to benefit from all those years of experience. Moreover, I assume that John considers it a blessing as well – to be able to continue to impact younger people through his wisdom and knowledge.
So God has used all these people to help others move along the path of life. As I get older, I suppose that there may even be several folks out there who look to me on occasion for guidance. And that’s a blessing for me as well. Because what’s the point of all that experience if you can’t pour it into somebody coming up through the ranks, giving them the benefit of your years of leadership, problem solving and life lessons learned? And let’s face it, one of the goals of our lives should be to make it a little easier for those coming behind us.
The verse for tonight comes from Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, and one of the wisest men who ever lived. He tells us, in Ecc. 1:13, “I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!” So even Solomon could have used more help as he advanced in years.
My encouragement tonight is to stay the course and know that God wants you to be a lifelong learner. My prayer is that you will find a mentor, someone who can pour their life into you. And that you will also pour your life into others; as Moses, Pres. Bush, Dr. Branine and John have done. You won’t be disappointed – in fact, you will be blessed by the experience. Grace and peace…