Thinking Back, Looking Forward
My parents recently bought some new furniture for their screen porch and I inherited a pair of old metal chairs in the process. These chairs are as old as I can remember and are the good substantial type of chairs that you can no longer buy. I remember many evenings and weekends spent on the back patio or the front porch sitting in these chairs just watching cars go buy, watching planes fly over and waving to all the neighbors when they passed. I dreamed of 'what I was going to do when I grew up' in them, studied for school, visited with family and friends, watched my sister flirt with the guy working on the street sewers and, well, you can tell the chairs saw a lot of our family life.
Today has been a great day in the Atlanta weather scene.....the type of day we long for when the hot and muggy summer finally arrives in full force. I was sitting out on my front walk this evening and as I slightly rocked back and forth, my mind drifted back to so many things from days gone by that I miss and will never experience again. It was not a maudlin time of sentimentality, but an enjoyable walk down memory lane. So, without further ado, here's my top list of things I miss the most:
1. Starting with the obvious, I miss the full, thick head of hair I had in earlier years.
2. I miss playing outside until after dark with the neighborhood kids and hearing all the screen doors slam open as our Moms would call us home in unison.
3. Playing the outdoor games like "Swing Statue", "Red Light", "Red Rover", Wiffle Ball and the skateboard of my generation which was a 2x4 with your old metal roller skates (you know, the kind with the skate key) nailed to the bottom of the board. You couldn't turn or manuever, you just went where gravity took you.
4. The thrill of going to Sunday School in the children's department because you knew there would be a cool flannelgraph lesson and Kool-Aid and butter cookies to stick on your fingers.
5. I miss eating dinner with my family every night around our old rectangular pine table my Dad built. No television was allowed during meals (and still isn't) and now I realize now that the 'forced' communication between us was more important than staring at a (then) small black & white screen.
6. I miss our Saturday night rituals of Spaghetti for supper, watching "Lost in Space" afterward, baths for all, then studying our Bibles and putting some change in our offering envelopes for church the next morning.
7. I miss the innocence of childhood - when I believed that Live Atlanta Wrestling was real and when there was an actual Birthday Bunny to bring presents (what can I say...my family is a bit on the freelance side).
8. Catching lightning bugs in a jar, chasing small frogs down the street, swinging on a rope swing across the creek, sitting in our treehouse with my girlfriend and reading Hardy Boy (me) and Nancy Drew (her) books, riding go-carts all over the neighborhood, and taking swimming lessons in a pretty nasty green-tinted pool.
9. I miss the education of all levels of school; elementary, secondary, university and seminary. My mind thrives on stimulation and I never want it to grow stale.
10.I remember the thrill of learning to play the piano, the awesome revelation that this gift came from God and the worship that it still brings me each Sunday as I play for my church.
11. I miss the days when all we had to worry about was whether to buy Goobers or Raisinets at the moviehouse down the street, not whether the language was going to be foul or the violence too gruesome. Kids today grow up far too quickly.
12. PONG, my first Apple IIE computer and my favorite fountain pen that would release my mind and heart onto paper.
13. Cruising up I-16 and I-75 on the way home from college, windows down on my '65 Chevy Impala and the 8-track blasting the best tunes possible.
14. How excited I was to get my first job out of college making a whopping $100/week. I could actually go buy my own ice cream at Dairy Queen.
15. I miss all my friends from the church youth group in high school and my gang from college. Many of them I still keep in touch with, many have passed from this life and many I always wonder where they ended up.
16. Being stupid enough to think a group of juniors in high school could actually hijack a school bus for a joyride and not get into trouble.
Folks, as memory after memory flashed back while I sat rocking slowly in the front yard, I realized that no matter how cruddy things may get each day, that the SAME God who was with me during my younger years is the SAME God who is with me today. At the time many of the above was happening, they didn't seem to be so great, but now looking back they were way cool. In another few decades as I look back on these years, I know I'll be led and comforted by the SAME God as today. The SAME God who led Abraham, Isaac, Joseph and Moses....who spoke to Paul on his way to Damascus....who revealed himself as a man in the person of Jesus....who died for me (ME!), defeated the bonds of death and is now preparing a future that my human mind cannot conceive.
Think back , look forward and remember that God is the one constant through it all. Regardless of whether your life has been good, bad or tragic; if you know God personally then your hope is bright and your future is eternal.
Oh yeah....I survived the DiscipleNow weekend with only a couple scrapes and bruises. The 12th grade guys I led were the best group yet and I think I was blessed more by them than they were by me. Well, except for the "Night of the Full Moon" (if you know what I mean). And then there was that whole Karaoke birthday party thing (more on that later). Thanks Seth, Cam, John, Jamey and Cade for letting this old man into your world for those few days and being the fine Christian young men that you are.
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.