God gives us plenty of warning. He really does. Oh sure, some are cut off in their youth, but for most of us who are blessed to get our three score and ten, the good Lord plants plenty of signs along the way that read, basically, “Eternity Ahead. Take Thought.”
When we are young, we ignore the signs, even though they are there even then. We rush past the wisdom of our elders, thinking we have it all figured out. Even in our youth we see friends cut off suddenly. Only the rarely wise ones stop to ponder. Most just rush on, heedless.
But eventually you cannot ignore it. Your body reminds you with regularity that it is aging. We spend billions to fight it, but it remains inevitable. The music of your youth is now found on the “oldies” station. And the great events of life that you remember your parents experiencing are now your own.
For me, I am now an empty nester (what an odd phrase). And six months after becoming an empty nester, I find myself the father of the bride, with a 2011 wedding upcoming. The story of Thad’s proposal to Summer is one I will be telling for years (hint: dad in a floppy hat with a 35mm and a zoom lens, mom army-crawling between cars with a video camera. Sound like a great story? It is!). But all of that means that my youngest, and my only girl, will soon be someone’s wife. In fact, here’s a picture from the engagement party a week ago. Sometimes those snapped shots just turn out well, and this one sure did. Summer’s aunt took the shot of the two of us, and yes, can you guess the wedding colors? Hint: green is not included.
When you are young, you don’t think much about how your actions impact your parents, in the sense that you have no basis upon which to realize that the normal events of your life (graduation, marriage, etc.) carry a whole realm of meaning for them that you cannot know. And once you experience this yourself, you may not have the opportunity to share your newfound insights with them. I know my daughter will dearly miss having her grandmother at her wedding, for example. And it makes you all the more nostalgic to think back upon what your parents must have been feeling at your own wedding or other such major events.
If we took to heart much of what Scripture says about pondering eternal things, meditating upon life and death, spending more time in the house of mourning than in the house of feasting, we would have even deeper experiences of the richness of God’s grace in this life. But we are often so distracted, so self-focused, we miss the best God would have for us, if we just followed His direction. I am trying, in the midst of a very busy life, to meditate upon the eternal impact of all of these blessings from his hand.
Now, I will tell you one thing: it will be a lot more challenging to make it through performing Summer’s wedding ceremony than taking on a whole squad of Muslim apologists. I’m just an old softie at heart, really! (Like any of my debate opponents would believe that!). But, I also managed to sing a solo at my own wedding, lo nearly three decades ago, so I guess I can draw on that experience to make it through this one!