Today, Memorial Day 2016, began with my working my part-time custodial job at my church. The work could have waited until tomorrow, but I liked the thought of doing it when no one else would be around. As I have aged, my mind has gotten busier. (I almost said grown busier, but I’m not sure it is growth.) So I welcomed this alone-time to connect with my Father.
I am sixty years old now. Sixty years. How can that be? What happened to my twenties? Vanished, long vanished, over the misty hills. Many sunsets have come and gone. I have lived much and seen much, more than I realize, more than seems possible. Most of the time I don’t think about it. But it pays to contemplate now and then the path I have traveled.
For a path it has been, bearing far more resemblance to the trails I love to walk in the Barry State Game Area than to the civilized sidewalks trod by young urban professionals, or to the Interstate highways that carry the busy masses swiftly and predictably from city to city. I have always preferred the back roads—curvy, leisurely, bumpy, intimate with the land, winding ever on past changing vistas and new points of interest, some glorious, some heartbreaking, some terrifying.
I have earned my white hairs as a traveler through this life. True, I color those hairs—I’m still vain enough to allow myself such silliness—but if I am not exactly an old man yet, I am most certainly no longer a young one. I have, as I have said, seen life. And more than ever, I know I cannot do it apart from God. Oh, I can survive. But I cannot live.
This morning, running the vacuum over the gym floor, I thought of what my Father has brought me through, of where he has brought me to, and of the uncertainty of what lies ahead in this increasingly turbulent world.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4 NLT)
Yes, I know. That is how it has been and how it will be, Lord. You have always been with me, the shadow of a great oak in the hot sun, the solidity of a massive rock amid the turbid millrace of time and culture.
“I need you, Lord, desperately. Today more than ever, I need you.” Those were my words to him this morning, but they were not quite right. The “desperately” part—that was beyond question. But “more than ever”? That would imply there were times when I needed him less, and that has never been so. There have only been times when I’ve been less aware of how much I need him.
Like a child, I am utterly dependent on him. I think he likes it that way. And so do I.
I like thinking that however many years I have left, I will always have a Father. Always. However old I may get, I will always be his child. Always his man, yet also always his little boy, welcome to climb up onto Daddy’s lap; welcome to share my delight with him over simple joys when life is going my way; welcome to weep my heart out when grief strikes, knowing that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Always and forever, I am my Father’s beloved son.
I will never stop needing and desiring his fathering. I will never outgrow my need to feel his strong arm around my shoulder and to sense his presence, his guidance, his reproof and correction, his way making, his gentleness, his kindness, his patience, his encouragement, his yes-you-can.
My Father, you love me. How I thank you for that!
I love you too—because you first loved me.