That eager lad dashed about with inexhaustible energy. And he bore an idealism fitting for his youth. He didn’t know the tears and toil that time would add to his account.
He knelt in prayer and dedicated every waking breath. And then he stood and spent himself for everyone who called. Silly boy! How they used him up. Those hours and early starts. Those freezing nights and back-breaking loads. Those long, long days in unrelenting sun.
Yet he kept his word and stepped up again and again. They patted him on the head and said nice things about him. Without him much would never have occurred. His back carried the load. His car carried the people. His phone made the calls. His ear listened to the complaints and woes. It kept him on his toes.
The process finally found its end. A young woman won his heart and laid her own claim on his time. Something had to give and so, slowly, the zealous investment was tempered by other calls for his money, time and mind.
He moved on. New pressures called him to the mill. He earned his keep and hers. Together they built a life and did what they could in their spare time.
Marriage and family, renting and working gobbled up the years and put them in the suburbs. Hopes came and went. Projects were launched and spent.
Old sermons didn’t stir as they had before. Other people’s needs were dismissed as impossibilities now. Someone else would have to pay the price that once he’d paid. Others would have to bear the loads he bore. Someone else would have to be the bunny for all who needed a lackey.
His wife and his life, his children and his bills kept him in the real world where dreams were out of place. Yesterday’s ideals were boxed with other relics of his naive youth. How silly to be so simple and so sold out. How fruitless all those miles and hours and aches and pains.
But then…. the heart always retained a sense of that call felt long ago.
While stiffer limbs and double chin replaced the skinny zest,
the youthful zeal, now hardly real was never laid to rest.
Often o’er the years a flow of tears trickled to sermons preached.
The call still echoed there buried by life’s care yet still alive enough to now be reached.
And so it was that an older man stumbled to the altar and stood among a crowd of eager youth. As they committed themselves to serve the Lord with all they had to give he scanned the zealous ones with memories of his journey long ago.
“I’m older now”, he thought. “And do not come with the ignorance of youth. I know now what I did not know back then. I once launched off with wild, untamed enthusiasm. Ideals and imagination pulled me to the front to throw myself unmeasured to the cause.”
“But now I’m not a lad. I’m no longer wet behind the ears. I’m calloused by the passing years. I stand here with stiff knees and workman’s hands. I stand here with my debts and all my life’s demands.”
“I stand here to the call. It asks me for my all. And I have stumbled forward once again.
I know the price to pay. I know what my wife will say. But I’m not here to serve the Lord in vain.”
And there among those crying youth a man bent down to pray. His lowered chubby torso conspicuous among the rest. He’s older now. And he kneels like he’s never knelt before. This is no repeat of youthful zeal. This is something deeper, and more real.
Here is one who knows the price. Here is one who feels the weight. Here is one who drags himself back to where he has been.
A special trumpet voluntary was composed in heaven that day. The angels love to play it when they can. It speaks of those older, wiser ones who’ve chosen to go all the way. It celebrates the yielded-ness of man.