I was having coffee with a friend on Tuesday and we came to the conclusion that we are officially “crotchety old men.” When we were small, our grandfathers and fathers ranted about how everything was going downhill fast. Government was making radical, rash decisions which we would never recover from; people were losing their reverence for God; and that new-fangled rock ’n’ roll was going to be the death of us all. Now we are older and wiser and we sit around drinking coffee talking about the radical, rash decisions that government is making that we will never recover from, how people have lost their reverence for God, and that hip-hop, she-bop, and rap music should be outlawed. We have become our fathers and grandfathers and we know what we are talking about.
I doubt that if we could go back in time we would see anything different. The older generations know how everything should work, and the younger generations know how to make it better. Benjamin Franklin’s father probably complained to his peers that his son had some “crazy” idea that would replace candles and lanterns as sources of light. He needed to get his head out of the clouds and get a “real” job. Alexander Bell’s father and his friends probably laughed at the notion that people would connect lines to their homes and talk to each other without coming over. Noah’s father probably hid his head in shame every time someone brought up the “ark” that his son was building. It’s a pattern as old as time, and the alternative to getting older and wiser doesn’t have any appeal.
Joel 2:28 says this: “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Too often, I believe that our dreams are about what could have been had we put our visions into focus and helped make them a reality.
To those of us who are getting older without getting wiser, we are destined to dream, and like all dreams, the light of day will come and they will vanish. They will disappear from reality without substance and form. But if we would become both older and wiser, we would allow our dreams to help shape the visions that are born in the hearts of our youth. Then together we could stand and proclaim the work to be good as we bow down and give thanks to God for all He has done.
The “afterward” that Joel spoke of was the coming of the fear of the Lord. Without that day coming in our lives, we will continue to get older without getting wiser, because the Psalmist has taught us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”