The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life… Proverbs 13:14a
I heard a story once that told of a man with incredible talent. A man whose abilities took him soaring among the clouds in an airplane. A pilot that took his sweetheart on dates that her parents were unaware of. Dates that simply sent them soaring hand in hand with a smile that could touch mountains. This same man soared to protect our freedom and on more than one occasion, protect and even rescue airmen and other service members of the United States Military. Within hours of having met the narrator of these precious stories, I knew I had to learn more. I had to tap into this precious gem.
I'm no miner of precious stones and really don't have the patience to find such a treasure. Rather I’d consider myself a sponge that clings to stories and advice from our older generation. I cannot seem to get enough of their heart, their passion, their presence. You can read so much about them by looking into their eyes, watching their magnificent facial expressions and how they react to very new experiences. This is, however, a new found desire of mine. A desire to know more. To know more about them, about their past, about our past as a nation, and about what God has done in their lives. We all have a story to tell and those with a wrinkle or two find amazing ways to combine words that flow with a smoothness we could only dream of.
I feel that I have missed many opportunities in the past to really engage those closest to me. My grandparents have faded fast and with only one grandmother left, I have an urgency to absorb all the wisdom I can, while I can. What a great opportunity we often miss as we pass by so many that have seemingly been forgotten. I often turn my head to watch the men and women who wear service hats from wars that I can only read of in history books. Their demeanor and carefully choreographed steps are invaluable to me. Tiffany and I made a trip to Washington DC two years ago. While we were there, we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial. There we saw dozens of veterans from an honor flight. There they were amongst younger Marines gazing at a statue that has so much meaning to them. Operation Overlord written all over their shirts only meant one thing. These veterans were from the D-Day invasion in Normandy. If only we would have had chances to listen to some of their stories. By the time we made it to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there they were again. Just being there with them, watching their eyes during the changing of the guard, this will be something that will never leave me. I can’t even imagine the thoughts running through their heads at that time. Servicemen during those times have seen things we could never dream of. What I would give to just sit down with one of them, even if just for a few minutes.
Many times we find in the Bible how those who were younger would seek out the wisdom of others. Take for example, Joshua who mentored under Moses or Timothy who mentored under Paul. I would love to see the journals of their journey for wisdom. We often imagine very serious conversations with the wise, where its a black and white conversation, but I believe these conversations were much different. I can only imagine the amount of laughter as Moses tells Joshua in some human disbelief that he actually raised his staff and the waters began to part. Just like that, the waters fell and his people were free. “Josh, you have no idea what it was like. Staff in the air because I really do care!!! ha ha ha, but really man, it was wild.” (Exodus 14:21-29). Or maybe the conversation between Timothy and Paul. “Hey Paul, why don't you have a sunglasses brand called “SONshades" sounded like ya needed them on the Road to Damascus, ha ha ha.” “Be quiet Tim… study something other than bad jokes.” (Acts 9:3-9). This may be a little far fetched, but I think we often associate conversations with those older and wiser with dry monotonous chatter much to the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher. But it isn't that at all, it’s so much better.
In recent months I've found that taking time to invest in those who have given us so much already is a small price to pay. One of my mentors, Mr. Mike Pettinelli, told me upon my willingness to accept the calling of ministry that, “All God needs is a willing vessel”. I told him I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, this is so new to me. Is this even something that I'm capable of doing? He reassured me, that no, I'm not capable, but God is. I’ve learned so much from him, along with so many others to include my family and grandparents as well. So, why don't we tap into this deep valley of “wrinkled wisdom”? Are we nervous to approach someone older than us? Are we to “busy” to take a moment and have a short conversation. Are we afraid of the truth that they may speak into our lives?
We are losing generations of people that have so much insight into how we should grow and function as Christians. We have such a disinterest in them because we think we know it all or at least we think Siri & Google does. You’ll find that I'm rather old school in some of the things I value most. I like things written down, journals, notes, letters, etc… Why? Because they take time, effort, and a sense of appreciation for the other person who may receive or one day read them. Why not take that same sentiment or approach towards the storing of this untapped locker of wisdom. Why not sit down, take notes, and absorb all you can about these individuals?
Here’s my challenge to you. Clear your schedule, consolidate your time, find ways to learn. Find people to learn from. Don't be so selfish or arrogant to think you have it all figured out. I know these words may seem a bit harsh, but sometimes we need to hear things just as they are. I do tend to look towards those older, generally with white, grey, or no hair at all. Not because they hold some special power beneath their fragile skin and silver locks of love, but because they tend to have a different perspective on reality and of God. Just as Solomon asked for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:9, we need to have that discerning mind. A mind that we don't close in opposition to learning something new, but a mind that becomes a storage locker for the “wrinkled wisdom” that is offered so graciously to us. I pray that we take advantage of the amazing opportunities and conversations that await each of us, before it’s too late.