An old man sits in a worn out recliner, looking out the window to a world that has long since forgotten him. The ten by ten room he occupies contains all of his earthly possessions. The home belongs to his children, to which he is grateful for the space and patience. A birdcage sits atop an old wooden bookshelf, and much like the man, the bird walks the walls of a cage with an open door. Neither are bound by desire, only by circumstance. The world has grown too large for them, and these days, one open door surely leads to another closed door.
As I walk into the room, the gentleman stands up, using the arms of the chair to leverage his old body against gravity. This time, he wins, and reaches out to shake my hand. “What’s your name, son” he asks with a gentle smile on his face. I answer and notice a large bible on the table next to the chair. After we talk over some particulars relating to his medical condition, he asks me a question. “Have you found a church young man?” “Yes Sir, I have” I answer. “That’s good. That’s good,” he replies. “We need each other more than we know. Need to encourage one another to love and good deeds.” I realized this was a rhetorical question, but still answer, “Yes. Yes we do.”
“How I’d love to get back behind the pulpit,” the man explains. “I can’t anymore because of my breathing,” he says pointing at his chest. “My wife and I had the privilege of starting many churches across the country, and worked with a lot of young men just like yourself. I lost my wife two years ago…” The old man looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet a bit. “Sixty-five years we spent together, son. Sixty-five glorious years. You see, my wife worked with the youth. She loved working with young men and women like yourself. Loved to see what the good Lord was doing in their lives.” He looked down again, trying to gather his thoughts. “I’ve preached hundreds of funeral messages, and you know what I’ve learned?” “What’s that,” I asked. He answered, “I’ve learned that it’s a whole lot easier to tell someone that it’s going to be alright when it’s their wife that’s gone and not yours. You see, it’s easy to trust God when things are good. But these days I just miss my wife something awful.” “Anyway,” he said. “I’m glad you’ve found a good church.”
“I’m going to a church up the road now,” he said. “Beautiful property….and paid for. Oh, we’ve had a rough time until recently. We’re a small body of believers, but we’ve got a young pastor now and I’m excited to see what he does. If you’re ever in the area, will you come?” “I’d love to visit your church,” I answer sincerely. “If you come, will you and your family sit next to me?” “Of course we will,” I respond. “Oh, to get behind the pulpit again,” the man said emphatically. “I’d love to preach about hope and faith. We’re in troubled times, aren’t we son? But Jesus is alive, and he’s sittin’ on the throne. And that’s good news for us, isn’t it? I tell you what, son. If you and your family come to church, would you pray with me? We Christians need each other badly, don’t you think? In fact, why don’t we just pray now.” The old man reached out and covered my hands in his and began to pray.
“Lord God Almighty. We come to you this morning and thank you. We thank you for your many blessings. And Lord, I pray that you would be with Travis and his young family. Lord, protect that two year old of his and give Travis the wisdom to raise him up in the ways of the Lord. Do not be far from him oh Lord, and cover him with your mercies, won’t you. All these things we pray in Jesus’ mighty name.”
“Amen?” he asked.
“Amen,” I answered. “Amen.”