It scares me to think that people expect wisdom from us aged folk with hoary hairs adorning our heads. It's just not true that getting old makes one wiser. I suppose it may be that when the farmer steps on enough pasture pies he learns how to get to the barn without getting his shoes nasty. If that is wisdom, then I might admit to a little. You don't need to touch many hot stoves to learn that is not a good idea.
I must admit it is pleasurable to be treated as a celebrity simply because I am a fossil in some one's trove of ancient history. Barbara and I were treated like rock stars when we were greeted by a young lady who explained to her middle school son, "This is the lady who taught aunt Mary to play the piano when she was this high." She added some flattering epithets about us being such sweet people. How nice it is to be remembered like that. Often that is due to poor memory, but that's okay with me.
When men address the Presbytery as "Fathers and Brethren" I now realize that I am one of those "Fathers" to whom others look for sagacious remarks. That's frightening. If there is any truth to that, then what I have learned is to keep my mouth shut. People always think I am more intelligent than I am when I keep quiet. But when I talk too much, they inevitably hear something stupid. Actually I have learned that in Presbytery meetings it really is true that meetings last too long simply because although everything has been said, not everyone has said it yet.
Children have a little different perspective on age. I'll never forget the time I explained to a child at the Christian school that we had been back east to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of a church I had served. He innocently asked me if I had been the first pastor. They know the truth. I didn't get wiser, so much as I just got older.
Yes, I have stepped in enough pasture pies to have gained a little knowledge about where not to step. Along life's way those metaphorical pasture pies leave one older and wiser, but also sorrier. You know what happened to our first parents when they fell into sin: instead of being holy and happy, they became sinful and miserable. The catechism embodies great wisdom here, because wisdom that is gained from experience is most often a wisdom after the fact. Now I know why I shouldn't have done that.
Wouldn't it be great if a few words of hard learned wisdom could be passed on to the young? If they could just be spared some of that misery that comes with sin by taking heed to what us fossils say. "Don't lie to avoid trouble. You will get caught and make it much worse." "Don't cheat on your school tests because you are only cheating yourself." "Don't divorce. You can learn to love each other. The children will be hurt!"
There is forgiveness to be found in Jesus. Yes--praise the Lord--that is true. But it is also true that some sins carry consequences with them that are very painful for you and others, and just because they are forgiven doesn't mean you will avoid that pain.