Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Privilege of Growing Old – A Dairy Farmers View of Life

Psalm 71:18 (ESV) – “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

Last weekend we attended a great niece’s wedding. As they would say in days of old, “a fine time was had by all” and yes, we did have a fine time.

The bride’s father died when she was 11 years old. My niece, Nadine, the bride’s mother, never remarried but she now has a boyfriend named Karl, a Minnesota dairy farmer.

Karl farms with his brother; they live on the birthplace of his Mom. He is of German stock, resolute, hard working, with a sly sense of humor. Karl is kind and gentle but direct and to the point, no gandy dancing fluff in this guy. He is solid middle America. If you were to make a movie about the trials of farming and life, Karl could play the part. Karl was 17 when his 42 year old dad died of leukemia. Karl, along with his mother and younger brothers, took over the farm. Karl never married.

We were visiting after the wedding when I asked Karl, “Did you ever feel cheated that you had to take over the farm at such a young age?” His eyes narrowed; he drew serious and immediately he said, “No!” He never felt cheated, he loved cows, he loved farming but more importantly, it was his duty. The eldest son, even though young, felt the obligation to carry on and no, he never felt cheated.

In a way, I think Karl was somewhat offended that I would ask such a question. He is a man who would always do his best to do the right thing. Keeping the farm going was the right thing and good men would be expected to do that and Karl did. No victim here; you deal with what life hands you and he has done so, quite successfully, I may say.

Nadine visited with me recently and we discussed the wedding. We discussed how these events, weddings, births, birthdays, deaths, are markers in our life; a sure sign of getting older.

Nadine said, “You know what Karl says? ‘It’s a privilege to grow old.’” We may complain of getting old with its aches and pains and the slipping away of certain talents but Karl considers growing old a privilege. You see, his 42 year old dad never had that privilege; never saw his daughter get married; never bounced a grandchild on his knee. Oh Lord, what a good reminder. All of life is a privilege—a blessing. Yes, the Minnesota dairy farmer has it right.

Yes, Karl has taught us all a lesson. Deal with whatever life gives you but count each moment as you grow older (which is every day, by the way!) as a privilege.

Oh Lord, do not forsake me when I grow old. May we witness Your mighty power and great grace to the generations behind us. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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