Once upon a time there was a blacksmith who worked very hard at his trade and he was always helping people. It came time for him to die and go to heaven.
God sent an angel to get him. But he refused to go. He said, “My neighbors are now planting and sowing their crops, and I’m the only blacksmith in town. If something happens to their equipment, it’ll need to be fixed, and if I’m not here to do it, they won’t be able to get their crop in. So would you please leave me, so I can serve my neighbors?”
The angel had never run into anybody that didn’t want to go to heaven, but the angel pleaded the blacksmith’s case with God and God said, “OK.”
Later the angel came again and said, “It’s time for you to leave this life and enjoy your eternal life with God.” Again the blacksmith said, “One of our neighbors is very ill, and if we don’t help him harvest his crop, his family will be destitute. Will you please leave me, so I can help him get that crop in?”
It became a habit. Every time the angel came, there was always something else for the blacksmith to do to help townspeople and strangers.
Finally, after many years, he prayed to God, “I think I’m ready. Send your angel.” The angel appeared at his bedside.
The man said, “If you still want me, I’m ready for you to take me home so I can be with God.”
The angel laughed and said, “Where do you think you’ve been all these years?”
I’m sure there are a number of interpretations of this tale. What strikes me is the truth that both the blacksmith and the angel are witnessing. They both possess a clear vision of life and eternity.
The blacksmith is a “Person for Others.” He had a trade, a skill and especially, he had a heart. The older he got, the more he realized how much he had to offer to so many others around him who lacked what he had. He never thought of retiring. He had too much to offer others.
Being 77-years old myself, the more prone I am to noticing the 60 million people in our country over 65-years of age who possess a lifetime of wisdom, talents, resources, organizing skills and mentoring abilities that are sorely needed by others.
EVERY DAY 10,000 people in our country turn 65! What a tremendous well-spring of life-givers who can change our country and make our world so much better than it is.
“THE GREATEST GENERATION” Ever since Tom Brokaw coined that phrase about my parent’s generation with his book in 1998, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on their generation and my own. Both of my parents as children made it through the horrific 1918 pandemic, raised a young family on a meager few dollars and cents and a lot of hard work during the Great Depression and labored in the US and abroad to win the worst war humanity has ever fought. They made sure that my two older brothers and I had a good education for whatever our future lives held for us.
At 77-years of age, I look back at my generation, mostly Baby Boomers, and I often ask myself: “What has my generation created that comes close to what my parents and the Baby Boomers’ parents have done? A good economy for some, but certainly not for all? Will our claim to fame be that we created the conditions that spawned Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and Tesla? What generation, if not our own at 60-million strong, do we hold accountable for the deep divisions that now exist in our country?”
The blacksmith finally says to the angel, “If you still want me, I’m ready for you to take me home.” I think the angel hit the nail on the head when he said: “Where do you think you’ve been all these years?”
The blacksmith always had such tremendous Joy and Love in his heart by being a “Person for Others”. He had been tasting heaven all along. Subliminally he knew it. That’s why he didn’t want to leave. The Joy and the Love of heaven were already deeply embedded in his heart and in his soul for many, many years.
GOD HAS A MUCH BIGGER PLAN FOR ME THAN I HAVE FOR MYSELF!!