Last week we visited Lynn’s Grandmother (Mum Mum) for her 100th birthday party. She is really quite amazing. She is remarkably healthy, remarkably sharp. You don’t want to get into a discussion on politics with her because you will lose. She has lived with Lynn’s aunt and uncle for as long as I’ve known her and up until a year ago, her apartment was on the third floor! She was born in Norway and is Norwegian through and through. In fact my one saving grace when I first started dating Lynn was that my grandfather was born in Norway.
While I was at her birthday party, I was trying to imagine all the changes that she has lived through.
She was born in 1912. That year also saw the births of Ark Linkletter, Francis Schaeffer, Eva Braun, Lady Bird Johnson, Perry Como, and Wernher Von Braun, which gives some sense of the history through which she lived.
- The year she was born, the last Chinese Dynasty ended and the People’s Republic of China begin.
- The year she was born, New Mexico was admitted to the Union as the 47th state and Arizona soon followed as #48.
- The year she was born was the first time a man parachuted out of a plane, not coincidentally it was also the first time a man parachuted off the Statue of Liberty. In 1912 the Titanic Sunk. In 1912 there was no Cy Young winner, because Cy Young had just retired.
- She was a teenager before you could listen to music on the radio. And she was already driving when the first red and green traffic lights were installed in NYC. Imagine a time when green did not mean go.
- She saw a man named Hitler come to power in 1933 and twelve years later, after some 17 million soldiers and 60 million civilians, (including 6 million Jews) had died, she watched the Berlin Wall go up…and come back down.
- She saw the birth of rock-n-roll music and the discovery of Elvis, though I’m not sure she was a fan of either. She can remember a time before penicillin and before Hiroshima. She went from Kitty Hawk to the moon; from stories around the fireplace to facebook.
- When she was a teenager, a chip was something you found dried in the cow pasture, hardware was a store, and software wasn’t even a word. When she learned to drive, you could buy a brand new Chevy Coupe with leather upholstery and specially designed windows for about $600, but who could afford one, which was a pity because gas was only about 11 cents a gallon.
So many changes, sometimes it seems like the only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes. Which made me pause to ponder the things that do not change, that never will change, at least not on this side of death; for example, the love of God, the character of God, the value of prayer, the importance of relationships, the value of people, the joy that comes when we see God@work around us, the Kingdom, the Gospel. Stuff like that.
Every time we talk to Mum Mum, a certain liturgy is followed. We say, “How are you Mum Mum?” She says, “Oh not so good. I thought I would be dead by now. I’m not sure why God is waiting so long.” Then we say, “I think it’s because He wants you to keep praying for your family.” And I would guess that there are only a handful of people who have prayed for me more the last 30 years.
I like change, but the only way to thrive through times of change is to be reminded of and invested in those things that never change. Mum Mum is invested in those things that never change, that’s why she prays and why she is eager to be home in heaven.
So where is your life truly invested?