A few days ago a close friend and I were in discussion about a number of things. At one point this person made the observation: “It’s truly sad younger ones seem so disinterested, even a bit hostile against hearing anything from older people these days. If they would recognize the wisdom that comes from experience they’d end up a lot happier and less in pain”.The same thing has been said for endless generations by the “elders” of tribes, churches, national and international leaders of all sorts. It’s certainly been said by most everyone who has ever parented or become a grandparent. And it’s a pain in the neck to hear it said if you’re not part of that older group of people…It’s also true. And for we OOOOOLLLLLLDDDDDD people, it can often be a real hurt to at times find ourselves left with little input but for prayer, as observers to miseries brought on younger ones by their own lack of experience.Of course Jesus (perfect, unlike any of us!) repeatedly said “For those of you with ears, hear”.Don’t get me wrong, plenty of older people are disconnected from hearing other’s sage experience and advice also. You don’t have to be young to be stubborn or old to be hard of hearing!Interesting that a disciple in biblical Greek is “a listener, a learner” Another saying that pops up from time to time is “live and learn” and I suppose that pain itself is often a great teacher.I’m thinking of a recent event where some dear young friends of mine put themselves through a number of travel woes due to not checking for the presence (or lack) of spare tire, etc., and who after being bailed out of a flat-tire situation out by some elder folk, had occasion to push their car quite a distance uphill to the nearest gas station… because nobody thought to check the gas gauge before they left the tire place.My response to the person telling me about this was “I remember the many times my own lack of experience, or humility, or sometimes outright stubborn rebellion against parents and/or leaders of several sorts (church or otherwise) ended up with my own pain. When nothing else teaches, repeated pain often brings us to a humility and an opening of one’s ears to the point we begin to actually think.My Dad was not a preacher, but I think he’d have made a pretty good one with some training. He was not a “wordy” person, not a non-stop talker (which has often been one of my own bad habits…) and of course wasn’t always wise or correct in his thinking or advice but he was more often right than wrong and sure knew a great deal more than I did, having lived a good bit longer than I!My Dad rarely gave much more than a couple sentences about how I might find a good chance at success if I did it like this or that… but he regularly would notice me messing the job up and simply stop, look, and say “Glenn- THINK”. Just that one word, and what an important thing.Scripture calls us to “not be foolish but try to understand what the will of the Lord is”. Certainly it’s true that the foolishness of youth can indeed simply age into the foolish dogmatics of the aged! We want what we want, we’re not listening, considering, there is little (from the Book of Psalms) “selah”, which is usually interpreted from the Hebrew as “pause, stop and think about it”.When we are/were young, we were often ready to move, jump, play with little thought about consequences.Only last night I heard a horrific story on the local news. A boy was playing around in front of his sister who was trying to pull her car out on an icy Chicago area road. As she tried to move forward he was laughing and jumped in front of her car. Each time she tried to carefully advance he did it again. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth time he slipped and though she braked, the car struck and killed him. What a brutal, horrible thing to live (or die) with on one’s mind!Late last night I read about the large number of homeless addicts who live in the storm drain tunnels under the city and suburbs of Las Vegas. One guy who was interviewed talked of wanting out after many years. He talked of being “addicted to methadone and marijuana” and the fact he’d been wasting his life and really wanted to get out. He spoke very directly about him being his own worst enemy and that he had nobody to blame, that he’d repeatedly made the same poor choices and had “done this to myself” and “have to change and get out of here”.He has come to realize this but it has taken quite a number of years. Time. Time indeed.Nobody but God knows how much time any of us have. Nobody but God knows what sort of “hard knocks” may be needed for us to learn.Thank God the Book of Proverbs (as well a human history and my own personal experience) shows we don’t -always- have to touch fire in order to get knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We really CAN get some from others’ mistakes and shared experiences.In my own case, the basics took 18 years, the last six of those in addictions, then I came to faith in Jesus. Believe me, I’m sure not beyond stubborn pride and rebellion even to this day… but I know what sowing such attitudes has always brought me- and it ain’t pretty!Yet, when I was young it seems (to me at least) that there was a bit more cultural respect for older people. I have often considered how blessed I was and am from the beginning of my faith walk with the Lord to be in the presence of older, godly, experienced Christians. Flawed and imperfect they were and are (as I am now and always will be on this planet) but I can say with zero hesitation they were all a great deal more experienced than I was. They had lived life, made excellent and horrible choices and lived to tell the tale.I learned to listen and by God’s grace, to apply at least a good number of the truths learned from classes “my elders” taught and teach. Most of the time I still take notes in a pda when I’m sitting in a Christian meeting where there is teaching. I try really listen regardless of the age or experience of the speaker but I must confess I trust the long and large view of those more experienced.I continue to nurture and appreciate relationships with pastors on our own leadership team at JPUSA and also in the Ev. Cov. Church of which we are a part, but there are many, many others in leadership (and otherwise) who are simply older, more mature and/or have made progress in their faith and life obviously beyond my own- and I’ve benefitted from their input.I could offer a long list of many of these as personal friends, mentors, disciplers of -me-! Without such input I’m not only certain I’d still be pushing vehicles uphill hoping for a gas station… I’d very possibly be living in the dark of storm drains… or would be long gone from this earth due to my own stupidity and lack of intentional listening.The God of grace has seen fit to extend mercy to us- and often that mercy will not feel or seem like it. I have found Him to speak early and often through godly folks who have lived longer and who care enough to communicate experiences and truths I’ve sorely lacked. Thank GOD for His provision through the older, godly saints! If you’re not hanging out with such people, make the needed changes or you’ll surely miss much of what God wants for your spiritual health!Jesus profound words come to me now: “You will not see me until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. Amen.