I guess that I should tell you that Janet and I, for the first time in a year, are back at our beloved Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV. On the drive here yesterday, which we love to do, we had a chance to de-compress from the day to day grind back in Indiana. We discussed all the things that have transpired since the last time we stayed here. You know, when you have a certain routine and a place feels like home, you blend right into the landscape and slide into the familiar routines of being in a place that really is like a second place to live.
But there are certain things that change as the years go by. On the way out here, and again on the way home, we always pulled off at Exit 8 on the west side of Huntingon, WV. Because that’s where the best Dairy Queen in the country was, at least by our standards. We would look forward to having a Blizzard or cone; but the last several times we have made the trek, it has been without benefit of our special DQ – it closed… I know, hard to believe, but it is no more, and so that part of the trip has changed.
Then we passed Charleston, and we know that we enter the twists and turns of the mountains until we get to Beckley, 45 minutes south. We prepare ourselves for rain, or snow, because it can’t be more than once or twice that we have traversed the mountains in sunshine – but we did yesterday. A really nice surprise!
Then, as we approach Beckley, we usually stop at Tamarack, a retail area that boasts things made by West Virginia artisans. It was getting a little late in the day, so we didn’t stop, but undoubtedly we will spend 15 minutes there on the way home. It wouldn’t be a trip here without it!
We know almost every turn to get here – from the leg to Cincinnati, on to Maysville Ky – then the refinery in Ashland, and eventually, our home away from home. It is always special when we turn into the gates of the Greenbrier. Our favorite meal here is always the brunch buffet in the main dining room. Sure enough, it has been re-decorated since the last time we were here – beautiful, but different. And one of the retail shops has moved down the corridor – again, nothing major, but different.
Some things have remained the same – for instance, the servers we know in the dining venues, including Jill Burks who served us this evening for dinner. We always say Hello to her as shares exactly the same name as our daughter who lives in Oklahoma. But many things in our lives have changed since last year.
Janet and I have celebrated our 40th anniversary in Hawaii, both of Janet’s folks have passed on, I have additional clients that I didn’t even know a year ago, we have moved our home and we have had to deal with a variety of family matters, both health issues and otherwise. It was sobering to realize how much has happened since the last time we stayed here.
But the thing that really drove it all home to us was something that really isn’t very important in the scheme of things – the absence of the signs that the Greenbrier puts up on easels in all the hallways each evening. For untold decades, when you step off the elevator each night, you are greeted by a wonderful sign that proclaims, “Shhh… It’s Sleepy Time Down South! A gentle reminder that many folks here are early risers and, therefore, they hit the sack rather early. It’s something of a tradition here – those of us who have come here for decades feel a little smile creep across our faces when we see that familiar reminder in the hallways. But guess what – they aren’t here this time. I can’t believe it. Another little indication that life moves on.
Somehow, I think that God expects the same thing from us. As we age, we apply the stories and concepts in the Bible differently than we did years ago. That doesn’t mean that the essence of the Scripture has changed, nor that the interpretation of the Bible can change, but as we move on in life, the Bible applications for our lives do change. When we are young, passages about old people don’t really affect us the same way they do as we ourselves age. I think that God and the Holy Spirit have planned it that way. We see things from a different perspective and that’s what God wants from us as we grow. In fact, I think that more of the Scripture is revealed to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit as we have greater life experiences.
The core of the issue is that our viewpoints change as we get older. Ecclesiastes is full of poetry about the dimming vision of the aged, and how strong men now stoop. After all the studies Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, learned about life, our verse for this evening tells us the heart of the matter. From Ecc. 12:13, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.” That’s about as simple as it can get.
We are to be in awe of God our whole lives. Period. My encouragement this evening is that you have a lifetime relationship with God – just as He desires for you. And He understands that your perspective will change about things as you grow older, but His perspective about us never changes – ever – throughout all eternity. My prayer is that you will realize that God loves you, and me, more than we can possibly imagine and that He promises that He will be with us every step of the way – not matter what changes in our lives or how we grow old. God is with us forever – even when the things we have come to count on in life change one way or another. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…