old woman with family at dinner

Listening to Experience

Our recent vacation began with trips to see three couples who have had an enormous influence on our lives. We saw my dad and his wife, we visited one of my dearest pastoral mentors and his wife, and we saw Kelly’s missionary aunt & uncle from her days in Indonesia. My dad taught me to fish and was my best friend when I was growing up. My pastoral mentor taught me about being a dad and being a shepherd for a flock. Kelly’s missionary uncle gave me priceless statements that have adhered to the fabric of my soul, and her missionary aunt was often like a second mom to her. All of them are in their mid to late eighties in age. We had extended conversations with each, and each spoke into our own lives as we visited together.

As Kelly and I continued toward the Smoky Mountains for our vacation, we unpacked those conversations together. Paramount in our minds was the GIFT that their experience was to us. We come from different generations, different backgrounds, and have different personalities, but each sought to contribute to us from their vast experience. Twice we talked about the “quotable quotes” from these couples. They all continue to embrace life, seek adventure, seek to love each other, and seek to make a difference by serving.

But the tug of my independence wants to know innately what they were trying to share with us. I found myself being intentional to listen, to receive, to savor, and to appreciate the gifts of knowledge and affection that they sought to give to us. At the same time, I found my heart saddened that I had been deaf to so many others who tried to give me similar gifts of their time, wisdom, and affection. It’s like the song that says, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Because of their ages, Kelly and I had a somber realization on the road one day: “It’s possible that this is the last time we will see some of these precious friends face to face this side of Heaven.”

So, my dear friends, seize the day with your mentors, your parents, and your grandparents. We have more opportunities than we know, but time is a precious commodity that is spent in irrecoverable ways. And seizing the opportunity while you have it will pay dividends for the rest of your lives.

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