Ralph Is A Much Older Man . . .

Bumped into an interesting experience on a trip to Sydney, Australia that points toward the role of one generation supporting the next as we plant churches and take the gospel to the nations.

Had a great time with some very nice people but one thing caught my attention—I was described as “A much older man.” Truth is, “I am,” or at least I’m in the process.

One of my friends emailed me that these young guys had described me as an old guy on their website. He sent the email as a joke. Well, being the vain person that I am, I went to the site and found some very nice things they had to say about me. If I weren’t so humble I’d send you the link to their site.

The person who wrote the blurb was advertising an evening I would spend with about 30, mostly Asian-Aussie, young guns in process of launching new churches. His point was that while there are several strong new church planting movements in Australia, few have the experience of several generations of churches multiplied. In other words, the “older man” thing was a compliment. I’ve been around the block and learned some things along the way.

Aging Has Its Benefits

While it is true that my bones creak in the mornings it is also true that a certain amount of wisdom comes along with age on your body. Experience is a beautiful thing, which brings me to the sadder part of this little story.

Just prior to jumping on the plane for Oz I discovered that one of my oldest friends and strongest disciples had made a very bad decision resulting in moral failure. My message to those young church planters was that “bad stuff happens, but God is still on the throne.”

I wanted those men and women to realize that there will be failures along the way–including moral failures. Also wanted to point out that a person’s sin in no way negated the good they did prior to taking a fall. Finally, I wanted them to know that I know that the sun will still rise tomorrow morning—the world goes on.

Experience Smooths the Road

In times like this that the experience of years helps a person to understand both the faithfulness of God and the indestructible nature of his Kingdom. BTW, my friend seriously repented, rebuilt his marriage to a point that it is stronger than before he blew a tire, and is once again multiplying churches. His ministry is spreading to nations other than his own. I’m proud of my Lord for showing grace and proud of my friend for taking him up on the offer.

We’ve been over this bridge before and may cross this way again. But we are not, and will not be, defeated. My friend’s family and church stand strong. They have prevailed! I’ve watched God’s redemptive grace solve unsolvable problems and redeem hopeless situations. Experience teaches me to bet on the Lord in every situation.

Years can be destructive to our bodies, but they are good to our hearts. I know because I am “A much older man . . .”

Do you have similar stories of redemption? We’d benefit if you’d add them to the comments below.



5 thoughts on “Ralph Is A Much Older Man . . .”

  1. We traversed down a road that destroyed our marriage. I couldn’t begin to imagine our relationship surviving, but then God showed up… Today our relationship isn’t only stronger than it was, but we have a sense of authority over the issues that plague marriages. With his grace, battles are won, and we carry those victories with us to share with others. Age and wisdom helps, too. (????)

  2. Ralph
    Are you able to pack your bag and lift it into the car? Are you active in doing your yardwork? Can you carry on a conversation with another and still respond to the information in a reasonable manner? Do you remember most of your appointments? Does Ruby not have to repeat herself when she tells you something? Are you reading the newspaper only once daily? Is your body sometimes sore and tired, but you still have the energy to get on with your work?
    Welcome to middle age! We are in the prime of our lives! We still have the strength of our youth but so many life lessons that we did not learn from a book. Our faith is stronger because we have been through a few hurricanes and even if the Weather Channel forecasts disaster, we know we will survive. So next time someone refers to you as an “old guy”, look them in the eye and say “I have resources you know not of.”

  3. Ralph,
    I have a past filled with failure and destruction. Yet, because of my past and all the pain that comes it makes it possible to experience all the healing God has brought from facing myself and the pain of the past and momentary pain when facing a choice that painful to make.

    The short term pain that comes with making a tough but Godly, but right choice in the moment is far less pain than the pain from my past choices that have destroyed my life. Thus choosing the momentary pain of a current decision is far more bearable as God shows me that in time He will heal and restore what the locusts have eaten and destroyed in my life. I just need to stand firm in the good paying He is using to heal me with (Hebrews 12:7&11).

    Even a person who has been a fool unknowingly in life can become wise in their older years if they learn to do life on Gods terms and not on their terms. God can and does turn foolish people into wise old people if they let Him. I am learning this the hard way as I look past at my foolish ways in my younger years.

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