I had a job to do today. A couple of weeks ago I made a commitment to the woman who is directing my church family’s Vacation Bible School to do this job. It wasn’t a difficult job, either. As I thought about it, it just seemed like an obligation that I needed get out of the way so that I could get on with my day.
My assignment was to get the old puppet stage out of storage and spiff it up a bit so that we can use it for VBS next week. It was retired from service several years ago, but due to special circumstances it will be taken out of mothballs and pressed into service this year.
Like I said, this is not a big job, especially since one of the seamstress sisters said she would help me out by making a nice new curtain for the stage. My thought was that I’d just splash a quick coat of dark paint on this relic and it would be good to go.
Things changed, though, when I had an opportunity to evaluate the puppet stage. The craftsmanship that went into making it was amazing. No detail is lacking, including the snazzy little front legs that swing out to ensure that the stage doesn’t tip forward on top of those with front row seats. As others passed through the garage, no one seemed to know the identity of the original artisan. They just knew it had been around for as long as they could remember. Everyone agreed, also, that whoever it was put a lot of special effort into the project.
After taking a close look at this masterpiece it no longer seemed appropriate to slap on a coat of paint. I was working on someone’s “baby”, which had been meticulously constructed. My priorities were changed. It suddenly seemed that my responsibility was to preserve and restore this functional art. For the next several hours I enjoyed my labor of love. I’m no expert. I have watched enough HGTV with my wife to know where to start. The rest just sort of flowed naturally.
I was able to do some thinking during the process. I began to wonder how many times we find ourselves in similar circumstances.
–How often do I fail to fully appreciate the efforts of others, because I don’t take time to look at them closely?
–How many times have I just pushed through my obligations, without giving much thought to anything more than how to get the job done in the easiest, fastest way possible?
–Why did this perfectly good, masterfully constructed puppet stage ever get relegated to the basement storage area?
After ruminating for a while, my thoughts turned to some of the other older things around me. Even though a crew had cleaned out the garage a few weeks ago, there were still loads of old things everywhere. There was an old stepladder that I imagine hundreds of different people have climbed. There were old tools of every sort. Some were probably used by a couple of generations before they were given to the church. So many good, old things!
It hit home to me that sometimes we make older people feel like they are relics from the past—that their place is in storage somewhere. A proverb that I memorized years ago kept running through my mind, as well. A modern translation words it like this: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31, TNIV).
There will always be advancement, growth, development and change. Young people with fresh ideas and reserves of strength are one of our greatest assets. Once again, we have Solomon’s collected wisdom to put this into perspective. Proverbs 20:29 states, “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”
However, recognizing the value of one group does not mean that we must minimize another. God values both the young and the old. We should do the same. I believe this is the biggest point my puppet stage experience brought home. I was working on something that was probably built by someone who has already gone to his or her reward. A generation younger than me plans to use it as a tool to help them teach yet another generation basic biblical truths. Incredible isn’t it? That one puppet stage now spans at least four generations. Sunday night it will be set on the stage. It will be used by puppeteers to many a child’s delight, I’m sure. It will stand, also, as a testimony that the old and the new, the young and the old, glory and splendor, can and should be meshed together for ministry to glorify God and bless many lives!
© Bill Williams
July 8, 2006