An Untapped Resource

I got to spend the weekend and then a three-hour drive with my dad this week. I realize I’m incredibly privileged to have a father like him. He was the epitome of character, integrity, graciousness, and willingness to follow God even at great risk to relationships he treasured.  I watched him be lied about by close friends and not defend himself, to be called names because he wouldn’t conform to what others wanted. This was not only my father according to the flesh, but also he is my father in the faith, setting the example of a man who would carve out time in his life to cultivate a closer relationship to Jesus, to listen to him, and to do whatever he put on his heart.

Spending time with my dad and talking over things we’re both thinking about and struggling with, is better than any book I can read, any conference I could attend, or any counselor I’d know. It is a rich, rich time that helps center my heart, shift my priorities, and adds nuggets of wisdom to my own journey.

After I dropped my dad off, I spent a few hours with another friend, Dave Coleman, who was my co-author on So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. I enjoy time with Dave in the same way and with the same results. Between those two men in a single day, I gleaned over 170 years of experience of learning to know who Jesus is and and how to follow him. What an outstanding resource they both are! And, I know many more like them all over the world—men and women  in their 70s, 80s and 90s—who have been seasoned in walk with Jesus and picked up some amazing lessons along the way. Yet, they spend countless hours at home, alone. Few people come to visit, to ask questions, to not only offer them company but draw from their fountain of wisdom as well. And, I don’t just mean about spiritual things. These people know how to raise families, run businesses, cultivate healthy relationships, and put the welfare of others above their own.

In fact, after I left Dave’s, I met with some others who know him. They asked me how he was doing. It seemed so absurd to me. I live 250 miles away and they ask me how someone is doing who lives down the street from them. “He lives right here, you know?” I asked comically, though, I was also making a point. I know Dave would love to spend time with any of them, and they would all go away, enlightened and encouraged.

A few years ago I met with Jack Gray, a ninety-year-old in New Zealand, whose life and wisdom in Christ I’ve come to appreciate deeply. The man who drove me to that appointment joined in our conversation and after I came back home, he got a few more friends and went over to visit again and continues to, because of how helpful it has been to them. Jack told me those conversations have revitalized him and he looks forward to every one.

To its detriment, our culture has diminished the wisdom of age. Yes, I know many people grow old, bitter and more reclusive, but many others don’t. It’s as if we put their vast resources of wisdom and compassion on a shelf and ignore it, all the while trying to find the right book or speaker that might give us the wisdom we think we need. Don’t fall for it. There are brothers and sisters right around you that have what you seek and would love to help you discover a great life in Jesus. And you won’t just get platitudes or principles, but a living example and the honesty of their struggle.

If you know one of them, just invite them to lunch, or ask if you might visit. Get to know them and see what treasures spill out of their heart. If you don’t know what to talk about, here are some suggestions:

What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned on your journey?

What are you thinking about these days?

What’s the best advice you ever received about marriage (or business, or relationships, or discipleship)?

Tell me some ways God has made himself known to you?

What has been the hardest thing for you to entrust to God?

I promise you, you’ll make their day.  And yours too!

6 thoughts on “An Untapped Resource”

  1. Hi Wayne! its Arnold.
    These truly are the moments in life that we will not regret. Being with those who have meant so much and still mean so much to us. I find spending time with those who have walked similar roads before we have has been priceless to my walk with Jesus. This week my wife and enjoyed listening to women talk about the daughters of Zelophehad. Found in Numbers 27:1-11
    We have recently changed churches to a small gathering of about 40 people where there is no pastor, we never start on time and the music is not the best because they don’t practice during the week!! Simple, Informal , and Caring. What a change, What a delight, and what a sense of freedom when no ones begging for money because we are under budget or we need to do more and be more with all the should’s, need to’s and man made functions that only tire you out instead of breathing the life of Jesus into us by caring for each other. This Caring for each other is something that happens when we spend time with people such as your father. Thank you for sharing this. It was perfect timing with regards to the relationship my father and I have. I believe spending time with people like this is one way the father wants us to do church I have read your book, So you don’t want to go to church any more and am currently reading, Finding church. I have ordered a copy of each of your books for a Christmas gift to myself. What i found so inspiring about the passage in in numbers 27 is that people have been bold enough throughout history to challenge the rules because they are not fair and often don’t even make sense. These 5 women had the nerve to challenge a rule about land inheritance that had been obeyed for years prior. When I ponder this story, i begin to imagine the setting and the tension these sisters created by asking this question. ” Can we not just change the rule and inherit the land so we don’t have to starve and live in poverty?”
    Moses went to the Lord, the Lord gave him assurance that this was a good choice. This story set a precedent for the future of that era. Thank you so much for being yourself and doing what you do!!! I pray that more people will walk out of the doors of religion, feel the refreshing rain, sunlight and gentle breeze of the fathers authentic heart of trustworthy and unforced rhythms of grace. New wine in new wine skins!! Cheers for now.

    1. Freedom and real caring are so refreshing, especially after living under human traditions for so long. Thanks for your comments, Arnold. I’m glad some of my things here have encouraged your own journey.

  2. Betty (Nabors) Hutchens

    What a loving TRUE tribute to Gene, Wayne. So happy you were able to be with him on Thanksgiving. He looks great!

    Your thoughts brought up our own fond memories of Gene and Jo, our first and forever elder mentors who loved us unconditionally through some really good and even more really hard years. The relational love you and Gene lived out for Harold revealed the heart of Jesus. Because we loved him, too, you nourished the soul of our family. Thank you, dear friend. Hope to see you again one day – all of you. Much love, Betty

    1. Thanks, Betty. Unfortunately, he’s already back at Shaver Lake and has no internet access, so he won’t see this, until I get up there. But I’ll tell him about it. Blessings on you and your clan!

  3. Yes… Yes… It is a treasure to have these men in your life… I am always on the “hunt” for those people ahead of me… who have walked this life longer and more seasoned!!! Especially now, that I am considered the “aged” person people might look to now!!! Both my parents are now gone… My Mother in Law is 90 and I learn so much from her… and not always through her words… but a long life together and understanding more now how she lived her life and continues to live her life!!

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