His voice is loud and gruff as he speaks, loud because he’s elderly and can barely hear, gruff from all the years of smoking. He’s getting stitches because he fell letting his dog out this morning and because his skin is so worn thin it doesn’t take much for it to slice wide open.
I’m there to assist the doctor if he needs anything handed to him. I just stay silent and listen as he begins to talk about church in the old day for him. He’s 92 years old, and sharp as a tack, even though he doesn’t see this in himself any longer. Says his memory started fading in his mid-seventies and I can hear the disappointment in his voice at this.
I laugh a little as he jokes with me not to live until I’m 92, everything just falls apart.
He starts speaking of years long ago. Old Southern Baptist churches on dirt roads, churches with no window panes or screens that had more wasps and bees inside than it did congregation members, a preacher who went on for so long that a woman drifted off to sleep and fell out of the pew. He told of nights of revival when people would come in their wagons. Babies would fall asleep and the men would carry them out and lay them in the them. Often, someone would put the wrong child in the wrong wagon and they wouldn’t realize it until they got home! He casually said, “Well, they’d just bring ’em back the next night. You’d see the women congregatin’ in a circle swapping their babies out. We didn’t have telephones back then ya know? So, ya just had to wait ’til the next night.”
I found this particular information shocking, horrifying, and somehow funny all at once. The doctor and I both looked up at each other with wide eyes of amazement at the same time. He said, “Well things is sure different now.” And we both nodded in agreement and expressed our disbelief over the baby swapping incidents.
Things sure are different.
We talked a little longer and when his stitching was complete, he apologized for having kept us so long. He shuffled out slowly, fingers grazing the walls as he walked out just in case he lost his balance. I watched him leave, thinking to myself that I would love to sit across from him with uninterrupted time. I would love to hear more stories of those simpler days.
I pondered living almost a century. What’s it been like for him? Going from days of dirt roads, no automobiles, no telephones to highways, airplanes, and phones that fit in your pockets in which you can access the whole world in just minutes, and all the in-between.
I think how the days of slow seem to be long gone, even though we have everything at our fingertips now, it’s only made us move faster through this life.
Change is always inevitable, sometimes welcoming and sometimes painful. Sometimes planned, sometimes unexpected. And can you imagine the change in one’s life after 92 years?
I am never comfortable with change, even when I know that it will bring about better opportunities for me. Even when I know if I don’t change a certain something it’s going to be detrimental to my overall well-being.
The winds of change have blown in like a hurricane for me this year. It was not welcome, and certainly painful, but as I pray and learn everyday to trust God, I see that it was necessary. It is necessary. It is necessary if I want to walk deeper with Christ. The one thing God has reminded me over and over is that I am not in control, only He is. And to be honest, if it were left up to me to change things, I wouldn’t.
From the moment I prayed a heartfelt, soul-searching prayer months ago, things have changed. Even though I prayed for the change, I wasn’t quite prepared for what God had in store. I’ve wrestled with it, and never have I understood the scriptures of Jacob wrestling with God like I do now.
I’m coming to terms with these changes and even though I still don’t know what is going to come of all of them, I do have the hope and joy that God keeps his promises and that I can rest peacefully in this knowledge.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV
As I watched the elderly man walk away from me, I thought again of all the change he’s seen in 92 years, and I gave a nod of acknowledgment and thankfulness for the gift of hearing his stories and for the reminder that though there are many changes one has to endure, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His love for us, will forever remain the same and in the end…that’s all that matters.