Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 5, 2010


Mama and I love it when friends come by and sit by the fire


            A few times I have knocked on doors in vain. I could hear the sound of a television or a radio inside, and sometimes people talking, but no one came to the door.

        After a few minutes I accepted the silent message and walked away. Two conclusions were possible. One, the people inside recognized me, and did not wish to see me. Or two, they did not recognize me, and they chose not to allow a stranger to come in.

        Whatever their reason, I felt for the moment the pain of rejection. I remembered the scripture that says that the Messiah was “despised and rejected.” In a small way, I could identify.

        Now that I am retired, I have more time at home, and more time when people drive up, to wonder if I really want to go to the door. On rare occasions I invoke the right to simply be still and not open the door. Believe it or not, there are times when being alone is just fine.  

        Most of the time my wife and I are thrilled to have someone come to our door. It does get boring to see nobody but the mailwoman and the garbage truck driver for days on end.

        In the past I sometimes had to restrain myself from going outside to  speak to the man who read the water meter, or the one who read the power meter. They never came to the door. They had their work to do and were too busy to stop and talk. Now everything is computerized and I guess the meter readers are out of work.

        One day two young girls came by selling oranges. But they had no need for conversation. They just wanted ten dollars for a church project.

        I thought sadly, “My God, must churches resort to selling oranges to make ends meet!” My mind turned more merciful, however, when I remembered all the stuff my own churches had sold when I was a pastor. The Lord has to put up with a lot of dumb ideas. He must be mighty patient.  

        Technology has given us a fine thing called caller ID. You can notice who is calling you before you answer the phone. I like that. I am willing to pass on the opportunity to talk to some folks.   

        You may have your own list. Mine includes people who have a special offer selling vinyl siding. I grew tired of explaining that bricks do not need vinyl siding.

        In some ways a monopoly is not a bad idea. We have no choice about water or electric power. That makes life simpler. The more choices we have, the more time we must spend choosing.

        If we had fewer choices we would have more time to devote to important things. Take grocery stores, for example. Can you really find a bargain somewhere? And is it worth it to drive halfway across town to save 17 cents on a pound of bacon? I have decided that groceries are groceries, so why sweat it trying to find a bargain.

        One of the nicest things that ever happen to us is for friends to call and say, “We want to come to see you.” Believe it or not, we love that.

        Dean loves it because I must help her clean and straighten up the house. She has taught me how to use the working end of a broom and a mop. Before I retired, I simply went out to do “the Lord’s work” every time she gave me that evil eye about housecleaning. Now I am trapped, so she straps on an apron and this old househusband gets busy doing what she calls real work.

        I love it because it means Dean will cook. Our stove stays cold and lonely so much of the time. Like the rest of the world, we don’t cook much. Nobody else does. I imagine the time will come when homes will not even have kitchens. People will all go to restaurants and talk about how their parents used to cook back in the old days.

        I had a talk with our stove not long ago. “Stove,” I said, “do you feel neglected?” Stove said, “I sure do, boss; I love it when your sweet wife lights up all my burners and lets me do what I was born to do – cook cornbread, peas, beef stew, sweet potatoes, and pork chops.”

        I said, “Stove, you be patient, because pretty soon, the good Lord is going to send somebody to see us, and my wife will turn you on again.” Stove said, “I can’t wait, boss!”

        Mama and I love it when friends come by the house and take the time to sit by the fire for a spell. Recently two friends did just that and it was fun being with them and reminiscing about old times. We talked about the past, about heartaches and joys, about our children and grandchildren, about how our aging bodies are falling apart, and about the things that really matter in the fourth quarter of life.  

Sometimes our friends will share their troubles with us and we get to pray with them. What an honor! It does not get much better that that: to have friends trust you enough to share their hearts with you, and then look with you to God, the only reliable source of the help we need the most.

Life is good when friends drop in and stay long enough to break bread at our table, laugh about old times and hard times, talk until the wee hours of the morning, and finally talk to the Father on our knees.

Maybe growing old is not so bad after all. + + +