Friday, October 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Month, Day 26: Tuesday Mornings with the Oldies

I must say that one of the highlights of my week is Tuesday mornings when I get to go to Robertson Manor and play the organ for three or four songs and then listen as Dad brings a study / devotional to the Oldies who have gathered there from the Manor and from the Golden Hills Lodge.

There's Dorothy, who drove through the mountains not long ago because her friend, who is in her 50s and was supposed to be driving, got a cramp in her leg or some such thing. Dorothy is 90 and sharp as a tack ...

Lester, who goes once a month to the Drumheller prison to be an encouragement and a "grandma" to those young men who need someone like her to talk to ...

Betty, our dear blind little Betty, who sees more than most everyone in the room ...

Joyce, whose mind and memory are betraying her but who can recite poetry and verses with vigour and confidence still ...

Wes, Joyce's brother, who said goodbye to his beautiful Leona not so long ago ...

Ruby, soft spoken but wielding a big stick! ...

Bill, who came late to this group but who sits on the right hand side of Dad to keep an eye on him, to get a bit of help finding the right book and chapter and verse, to bring him a cough drop each week, to be near him ...

Sandy, valiant of heart and quietly persevering ...

Brenda, my own dear Brenda,  who helps hand out the refreshments and is a great encouragement to Dad and me ...

Neil, crippled in body but strong in heart ...

Emily, who weeps for the world ...

Velma, who has shyly volunteered to play the organ when I am unable to be there ...

And others who come when their health and their memories and their schedules permit it.

And then there's Dad. Dad took this study over from Tony Hanson quite a number of years ago and he conducts it through the year. All other studies have breaks, but not the Oldies at the Manor - for some of them, it's their church service and he is not going to let them down. When he can't be there, Dave Epp, a dear friend, will substitute for him.

Right now we're learning about benedictions in the Bible, and the "good word" - which is what benediction means - we are studying is Numbers 6:24 - 26 (which, incidentally, was the reference my Mum's Mum always wrote in every birthday and Christmas card she sent us):

The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make His face shine upon you
and be gracious unto you

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you
and give you peace

This Tuesday we looked at the second verse.

For God's face to shine upon His people is a sign of acceptance, Dad explained. It's a sad thing when God's face is hidden from us, as it was from His people in Isaiah chapter 59, after they had strayed so far from Him. Contrast that with His words in Ezekiel chapter 39: "... neither will I hide My face from them any more." 

I for one know that I hate it when I think someone I care for is distant from me, for any reason but especially when I know it's something I have done to cause the rift. First I get a bit resentful and pouty - hey, there's two sides to this! I mutter in my head. But very soon I will feel concerned and anxious that something I have done has hurt someone I love and I want to make it right. And more often than not, the person at the other end also wants to make amends and restore the relationship and meets me half-way.

I magnify that to God-scale - except for in this instance it truly is one-side as far as the offending party is concerned! - and I am speechless with wonder that He would care enough to meet me more than half-way in restoring our fellowship.  

For God's face to shine upon His people is for God to save, Dad went on. This "make His face" is in the active voice anywhere you read it in the Bible; it's always something God does proactively, and all we have to do is accept it. Psalm chapter 30 goes through a bit of a cycle: the Psalmist starts off praising God and then gets a little too cocky, a little too self-satisfied ("and in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.")

Big mistake.

The next verse shows the psalmist acknowledging this in his words, "Lord, by Your favour You have made my mountain to stand strong [there's that proactive action again!]; when You hid Your face I was troubled ..."

A slightly different word but the same concept is found in the New Testament book of Ephesians, chapter 1 and verse 6: "... the glory of His grace, through which He has made us accepted in the Beloved." Some translations beautifully put it, "accepted in the Son of His love."

Dad told the story of two soldier boys in the first half of the last century, one from a fairly well-to-do family and the other homeless, without family to speak of, without roots. These two young men signed up at the same time, went through training together and then were sent out to the battle front together. By this time they had become as close as brothers; and one day the soldier with the established family said to his friend, "If something happens to me out here, and you make it, I want you to go to my home and take my place in my family." He even wrote a letter to that effect and gave it to his friend.

And, as war played out on the battlefield, the one soldier was killed and the other one survived. He was sent home and had nowhere to go, no one to welcome him back. He tried to find a job but the war was over and there were thousands just like him looking for work. In despair he suddenly thought of the letter his friend had given him those months ago. 

He made his way to the city that his friend came from and found his friend's home. He located the house and knocked on the door. A patrician-looking man answered and asked what the soldier wanted. "Would you have a room for me and something to eat?" the soldier asked.

"There are many people out there in your predicament, son," was the reply. "I'm sorry, but we have no room in this house."

Hesitantly, very humbly, the soldier slowly brought out the letter and handed it to the elder man. The man read it, almost unable to believe his eyes."You knew my son?" He called into the house, "Mother, this boy knew our son! We have a room for him, don't we?"

Accepted in the son of their love.

"[The Lord] be gracious unto you."  This statement invokes God's mercy, compassion and kindness. The book of Nehemiah chronicles some of the last events in the Old Testament where the city of Jerusalem was being rebuilt but due to one thing or another the walls were left in disrepair. Ezra and Nehemiah were there, exhorting the people to complete the work and to turn back to God, who had after all freed them and brought them back home. 

In a recollection of the history of deliverance the Israelites had experienced the priestly tribe sang this song, "... our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks ... and refused to obey but hardened their necks ... But You are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and forsook them not."  

Don't we sometimes yearn for mercy, for compassion, for a little bit of kindness? 

But God doesn't force Himself upon us. He is prepared to wait until we are ready. Isaiah chapter 30 verse 18 was an astonishing verse for me to read this day:

And therefore will the Lord wait
that He may be gracious unto you,
and therefore will He be exalted
that He may have mercy upon you

for the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all they who wait for Him

God will wait ... for me?! 

And what about the last part of this passage - I am to wait for Him too. I might not feel blessed right now - but it's only a matter of time if I wait for Him.

We are asked to wait in two ways in the Bible: to wait UPON the Lord, and to wait FOR the Lord. The first is active - we need to be doing something.

This waiting here is so very sweet. 

We simply 




Nothing more is required of us. We can breathe into this space, into this time. And His blessing will come.

This is what "my" Oldies are doing. We have lost a number of them to age, to illness, to moving away, to the ultimate parting on this earth. There is not a lot most of them can do physically any more. But they are powerful because they know the secret to being blessed. 

So they wait, quietly and patiently and without any fanfare.

And God listens to them and blesses them.

They in turn bless me, with their prayers, their hugs, their wisdom.

No wonder Tuesday mornings are such a gift to me!


  1. i can barely type through the tears.

    *thank you*, karyn...for sharing from the beauty of your heart, the Beauty that is Him.

    how i wish i could sit in and listen to the wisdom of your dad - thankful i can read it through your words for now...<3

  2. Light has filled my soul, reading this. I will be musing on it all week, and more. Thank you for passing on the message. Each person in the chain is a light-bearer. What a gift! Thanks for sharing Tuesday mornings with Dad and the friends there ... and with us!


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