Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:7 NIV)
I’m not young but I’m not elderly. At least it makes me feel better to think that way. I was thinking the other day, dangerous I know, about what I remember thinking when I was younger about those who were not young but not elderly. I’m not sure about others in the world but I have a predilection to allow the changes which take place in my life to be ignored and considered normal while considering the same change in others as evidence of their age. I think it’s a case of mental self-preservation.
When I was a young man I loved hearing stories from my parents about when they were young. It was also great to hear of experiences they experienced throughout the “normal” activities of life. There’s a lot of humor, wisdom and confusion when you look closely at everyday life. Needless to say, these stories come to mind when we find ourselves in similar circumstances. It’s only natural to share them so others are forewarned.
Now that I’m older, but not old, I find that I share such tales with the young folks I meet as well as my own children who are now grown and living away from home. When I’m with their spouses or friends some event will trigger a memory from my past I think will be fun to share. So, I share it.
It’s like furlough for a missionary. After so many years on the mission field I’ve got a treasure of numerous situations or events which others might consider interesting, informative or funny. While bopping around the country sharing our ministry with churches, family and friends I use this collection of tales to fuel many conversations. But the problem is my memory isn’t quite what it used to be.
It’s not that I forget the salient points of the story. It’s not that I forget my wife’s name or my grandchildren. It’s that I can’t keep track of who I’ve told what, when or how often. We share our ministry and stories at churches across the nation. The advantage of speaking in different locations each week is that you can repeat a sermon or story and it’s a different congregation. The embarrassment comes when we’re having lunch or just relaxing with different families in the church, with our family or our friends. I can’t remember what tale I’ve told.
Unlike lies which we often forget and thus get us into trouble; forgetting what story you told to someone doesn’t land you in hot water but in the lukewarm conversation of repetitions. I was gently reminded of this in a recent visit with family. Walking along I was reminded of some funny event centered on where we were and shared it. My marvelous daughter-in-law chuckled and said, “Now I know where he gets it.”
“Who gets it?” I queried.
“Your son,” she replied.
“Gets what?” I asked
“The habit of repeating stories he’s told me before,” she said and giggled.
“Oops, did I already tell you that?” I asked looking down at the pavement under my feet.
“Yes, but that’s OK. I’m used to it. I let him go ahead. It makes him feel good.”
She smiled, gave me a hug, and let me repeat more stories the rest of the day. I don’t know how many stories were repeats because I honestly can’t remember what I’ve told who, when or how many times. I suppose some stories are good to repeat and some get boring. I think it comes as a combination of getting older and making way too many presentations of our work throughout the years. Hopefully the stories I repeat the most often are the good ones which help someone else walk with Christ or liven up their day with humor.
God wasn’t afraid of repetitions but I think He remembered who He told what, when and how often. His instruction to the Israelites was to repeat His laws to their children every which way, everywhere, and all the time. I sometimes get so involved in other conversations about life I forget that God is part of everything I do and should take the center in every tale I tell. Honestly, they wouldn’t be the stories they are without God.