Who said you can’t go home again? At 84? Oh yeah?
I just did, in a fashion - at least for a week-end.
Well…not REALLY home, I guess. Although it was home for my wife, 3 children and myself for 11 years - enjoyable ones too. We had 11 years of ministry - both at the Christian institution where I ministered, as well as the Church, Sunday School, Christian Education and Choir that some more of the family also participated in. And the friends we gained were outstanding! Our 3 children went to grade and high school there. They were in the Youth Group at the church. Home? Boy, it sure seemed like it at the time! But, out of the 65 years Jean and I were married, that span of 11 hardly seems to be really home.
But, this past week-end it was like “Old Home Week”, as they say. After 43 years of being away, to go back again and see some of those friends - most of whom I didn’t even recognize until they told me their names - sure seemed like home. And, I saw 3 grandchildren I hadn’t seen for awhile, and a great grandchild too. Home? Hmmm.
But, the last 43 years of our family life were spent elsewhere. Back to our original home area, actually. I got to minister to my home town (and others around it) for 34 years, actively - before I became “superannuated”. Didn’t know that was a word? I heard a man in the ministry say one time that he thought maybe he should retire, before he became (that word). It might mean:
1> worn out: used so much as to be able to offer no more useful service; or
2> out-of-date; no longer in fashion.
Actually, I did retire, almost exactly 10 years ago, just 5 months short of my 75th birthday. But, we lived near our original home for 42 years. That was home. Whether I retired because of being “worn out”, or “out-of-date” I’ll let others decide.
But, back to last week-end.
After Jean’s passing last month, I have a lot more time on my hands than previously. Sometimes I wonder what to do with myself. So, I look around and pray about what I might do - productively if possible.
Knowing part of our extended family now live in that place where we spent 11 years ministering, and remembering some of those friends from back then who were still there, I got the idea of visiting family there, and also attending the church where many of those former friends now attend. My family there encouraged me to not only come for the week-end, but to come a day early so as to visit my great grandchild’s day care school. (I'm retired, so why not?)
So, “to make a long story short”, (short? you say!), I informed John and Tonya (who really take care of me), that I was planning on taking the commuter train to the city for the week-end to visit family and friends. “Great idea”, they said.
First of all, I had a wonderful Saturday with many of my family, including a terrific evening meal at Olive Garden. That afternoon, as well as Sunday morning before and after church, I re-acquainted myself with some of our old friends from 43 years ago - only 3 of whom I recognized. (Does old age affect the sight? Or memory?) Actually, only two of them recognized me, and one of them had heard that I was coming. So..... Who else is old?
We shared memories, joys, tears, and sadness, since others, like Jean, had since left us for heaven with Jesus. Memories flooded. I got reacquainted with friends that I wouldn’t have known if they hadn’t identified themselves; but then, we talked about the past. What a joy!
I have to say this: Not a small number of those friends had come to Christ as a result of the Youth Pastor of the church we attended there nearly 50 years ago, who is NOW the Senior Pastor of THIS church - a lighthouse in the community, and a ministry to needy and hurting individuals in that area.
Home? It felt like it - yet with all the wonderful ministry occurring there in these years - I could only now OBSERVE it, and Praise the Lord for THEIR faithfulness!
Matt. 25:21 “Well done, thou good and faithful servant(s).”