“I’ve been doing the same job for almost thirty years.”
The astonishment in the pretty little girl’s eyes was almost amusing. I was just happy to see a different emotion there than the sadness which had surfaced just moments before.
She had been told she could find a piano teacher at my store and came by, her dad and little sister in tow, to see if she could make arrangements to start lessons soon. When I told the eight-year-old youngster our teacher had just retired, she was heartbroken.
I explained that the teacher had been doing the same thing for many years and needed a break. The explanation was not enough to brush aside her profound disappointment. For some reason, perhaps because I’ve been thinking a lot about the passing years in my own chosen profession lately, I mentioned our upcoming anniversary of running the music store in our little town.
Thirty years! It was unfathomable!
In her young brain, doing the same thing for nearly four times the number of years she had been alive couldn’t be imagined. When I told her I was nearly sixty years old, she just shook her head in disbelief.
“You don’t seem that old.” She meant it as a compliment.
I took it as one.
Moments later, as the little family prepared to take their leave, the sweet girl approached me, sticking out her hand to shake mine. I was surprised, but took her tiny hand in mine and gave it a little squeeze.
“My name is Cynthia. This is my sister, Sara (she pronounced it for me a second time—Sah-rah), and you already know my father. I’m happy to meet you.”
Stifling a little laugh, I told her to call me Paul. Satisfied that the formalities had been covered, she followed her dad and sister out the door, still talking as she went.
Cynthia came back to see me today. Her dad had some business to take care of, but she had business with me, as well.
The young lady had been thinking about our conversation yesterday.
“You know, this thing about you being so old? You shouldn’t worry about that. When you die, if you know Jesus, you’ll go to be with Him and you’ll never get any older. Ever again. Forever and ever. That’s how long we’ll live there.”
I thought about hugging her right there in the music store, but that’s not the proper thing for a nearly sixty-year-old man to do with little girls they’ve only just met. I had to be content with thanking her and assuring her that I did indeed, know Jesus.
You know I’m not worried about dying, right?
The tears have been close to the surface for awhile now. I’m not sure why. Maybe I don’t need to know why.
I am keenly aware that time is getting shorter. What once seemed an eternity before old age arrived, along with the specter of death which will naturally follow, has now compressed into only a decade or two.
I know that all around me the reminders of our fragile hold on life in this world are multiplying. Tonight, as I read a friend’s account of his wife’s flight from this world exactly a year ago, I wept. I hardly knew her, but I read of his sadness mixed with hope and I remembered that, in the natural course of things, the days are moving to that unbreakable appointment for all of us.
I remember also, none of us has even the promise of tomorrow. As I hear almost daily of friends who are struggling with diseases which threaten to cut life short, the tears rise again.
Sadness? Yes, but also the razor-sharp awareness that time is flying past.
What does all this sappiness have to do with a little girl talking about me having one foot in the grave? Not much.
What it does have to do with is the fact she was concerned about this old man enough to ask if I knew Jesus.
A little eight-year-old girl.
When was the last time I shook hands with someone and reminded them that He is the Way, the Truth, and indeed—the Life?
Do I really believe that time is getting short?
This old man has talked enough for one night. Perhaps, we’ll speak of this again soon.
Then again, just a handshake and a question or two might be better.
Time is flying.
…taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5: 16 ~ NET)
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.
(from My Story ~ Mike Weaver/Jason Ingram)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.