Admittedly, when I hear the sound of children running through the Fellowship Hall of the church, it puts a smile on my face.
I am grateful for their energy and excitement, which seems endless. I also appreciate the ideas and vision of young families, as they think creatively about ministry and serving the needs of others.
In addition, I enjoy the engagement of those who are retired recently, who are able to give of their time to others in valuable ways. There is strength in all of them, and I appreciate each one!
Often times when we envision strength, it is the person who can run the fastest, jump the highest, and leap the furthest. They belong on the track, throwing a javelin, or the football field, rushing the quarterback.
When we consider the opposite of strength, we might envision the limitations of age. We picture a beloved grandparent, leaning on a cane and leaning in to hear us.
Even though I appreciate the strengths of each generation of the church, I believe there is a particular strength in the generation that carries a cane. A cane might hold us up when we are unbalanced, and it might prop us up when our legs cannot, but I believe the strongest people I have ever met carry one.
Standing on the side of a soccer field, I watch a grandparent make her final approach to the sideline after having walked many steps from the car. She was leaning on her cane. Every step was measured and meticulous. She had to concentrate, but there was nothing that would keep her from showing up to support her grandson.
It is an unparalleled strength! It is unmatched because it perseveres in the face of loss, seeking out gratitude even when there is hardship, and it continues to re-imagine what life can mean, adjusting to new limitations. The people who carry a cane are diligent and devoted.
When it is time to blow out the candles at a 2-year-old child’s birthday party, they put on a party hat and pull up a chair to savor the moment. When there is a funeral at church, they leave the house early, so there is enough time to sit in the pew, giving thanks for the life of a friend.
They have so much to share with us. It is not just wisdom; it is strength for holding on to what is sacred. They show up when it matters. They remind us we can stretch out limits. It is an enduring commitment to others, which is stronger than power-lifting five hundred pounds.
It is a strength, which holds the world in its care. They might lean on a cane, but we lean on them. I am thankful for their strength for it inspires us all!
Dr. Tripp Martin has been the pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church since 2013. Prior to living in Auburn, he served churches in Georgia and Mississippi.