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FIRST-PERSON: The wisdom of the ages

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – A friend recounted her visit to a family member in an assisted living facility. Not only did she spend time with her relative, she also had a long chat with a few other residents and their families. “I don’t think we do that enough,” she said, explaining how the group – varied in age and life experience – simply enjoyed each other’s company.

I was reminded of her story a few weeks later when I went to check out a piano for sale. The gentleman who owned it invited us into his home to see and play the instrument. In the few minutes that followed, he shared stories of his life with his wife, the piano player in the family who died nine years ago. They have a son on the mission field. He himself started a Bible study at his church almost 40 years ago – and it’s still going, he said.

His stories, of family life and longevity in the faith, were a surprising encouragement. I thought I might leave with a piano (or at least the promise of one). I got that and more – we enjoyed each other’s company, and I walked away appreciating the testimony of someone who has spent more years than I have so far walking with Jesus.

Scripture says “understanding comes with long life” (Job 12:12) and “gray hair is a crown of glory” (Proverbs 16:31). Those passages are an encouragement to me in the middle years of my own life, as I benefit from the experience of people older than me. I’m also finding wisdom isn’t limited by generation.

I recently started meeting with a small group of women 15 years younger than me. They are bold and missional in everything they do. They invite friends over for dinner at the drop of a hat. They are unafraid to share what they have. They give freely of their time and energy. They are setting an example for believers “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

I’m often tempted to stick with the social circle I know, people who are in my same age and stage of life. Too rarely do I have the patience to listen to those older than me, or the grace to learn from those who are younger. I’m grateful for these brief years in the middle, and prayerful I’ll remember to reach my arms wide in both directions.

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Meredith Day Flynn is a wife and mother of two living in Springfield, Ill. This article originally appeared in The Illinois Baptist.